Govt. reiterates its commitment to uphold all provisions of the CRC

It also congratulates the UNICEF on its 75th anniversary

The Royal Government of Bhutan reiterated its commitment to uphold all provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as UNICEF marked its 75th Anniversary on December 9.

Congratulating UNICEF on its 75th Anniversary and for giving every child a fair chance in life, Health Minister and Vice Chair of the National Commission for Women and Children, Dasho Dechen Wangmo, in her address, said that as a champion for the rights and wellbeing of children, UNICEF in the last 75 years has helped nurture, shape and change, the lives of children around the world and in Bhutan.

โ€œThe story of UNICEF is a story of our children,โ€ Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said. โ€œUNICEF has been in Bhutan for the last 47 years. Over the four decades, UNICEF has worked closely with the Royal Government of Bhutan to ensure that every child and young person are safe, protected and healthy.โ€

The Minister assured that the RGoB is prepared to commit efforts and resources in addressing the existing challenges and turning them into opportunities through innovative interventions in collaboration with developmental partners. โ€œWe want to tell our children and young people that their wellbeing and happiness is a national priority for the Royal Government of Bhutan.โ€

In a regional report, โ€œReigniting Opportunities for Children in South Asia,โ€ released on Thursday, UNICEF urged governments across South Asia to urgently expand investments in basic health, education, and protection services for children and their families whose lives have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters.

The report highlights the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on the most marginalized of the regionโ€™s 600mn children. It states that unless rollbacks in critical health, immunization, nutrition, protection and education services are reversed, the worst consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will persist for decades.

โ€œThe remarkable achievements our region has made in advancing child rights over recent decades are now at risk,โ€ said the UNICEF Regional Director for South Asia George Laryea-Adjei. โ€œIf we fail to act, the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for decades to come. But by acting now, we can reignite opportunities and ensure every child in South Asia not only survives but thrives.โ€

The report also outlines the lessons learned and the opportunities that have been opened up by the pandemic which can now be leveraged into gains for all children. The impact of the pandemic on children was reiterated in a youth statement entitled โ€œOur Future, Our Rights, Our Voices,โ€ the outcome of extensive virtual consultations involving nearly 500 young people from all South Asian countries.

UNICEF Bhutan Representative Dr Will Parks said the anniversary, which coincides with the 50th Anniversary of Bhutanโ€™s membership to the United Nations, is an occasion to celebrate UNICEFโ€™s partnership with the RGoB and to renew commitments in ensuring the wellbeing of children.

โ€œFor 47 years, UNICEF has worked closely with the RGoB and partners to ensure the wellbeing of every child. UNICEF remains committed to sustain the progress made in the lives of children in Bhutan, to reimagine opportunities and to address challenges that threaten the wellbeing of children.โ€

The report also features experiences of children from the region during the pandemic.

Geeta Acharya, a grade 10 student of Damphu Central School in Tsirang shared that bridging the digital divide is an investment that enables children and young people to continue learning and preserve their hopes for a brighter life.

โ€œTechnology is meant to be empowering and democratic. But the reality of the digital divide revealed more than issues of connectivity. It exposed the poverty and inequality issues in our society, villages and homes. Education for many of us is the only hope to change our lives, and poor access to digital learning threatens to take away this very hope,โ€ Geeta writes.

The report highlights the key actions needed to reverse the rollbacks in progress for children, and begin building a better future for every child in South Asia, among them:

1. Expanding investment in child-sensitive social protection programmes, especially for the most vulnerable children and their families.

2. Resuming in-person learning in schools while addressing learning losses, bridging the regionโ€™s digital divide and improving the quality of education for every child.

3. Building stronger integrated national health and nutrition systems that protect children from deadly but treatable diseases and reverse the regionโ€™s child nutrition crisis.

4. Protecting children from neglect and abuse and the promotion of the mental health of all children and young people.

5. Urgent action to protect children from climate change through increased investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children.

Staff Reporter from Thimphu