In the run up for the general elections, Save the Children has come up with a 'Children's Manifesto' urging all the political parties to ensure that children's demands find adequate space in their manifestos. Since children cannot vote, it is important to make their voices count.
Save the Children has followed a two-pronged approach in formulating the demands both on behalf of children and from children themselves through a series of consultations held across 10 states in India.
Keeping children at the centre of the demands, Save the Children has looked at evidence on ground, key policies and implementation gaps to arrive at and propose recommendations that will ensure children survive, learn, and are protected from harm and abuse.
In a parallel process across 10 states, children representing various social groups including caste, tribe, gender and other vulnerable groups joined the consultation process. The aim was to listen to, understand and include children’s voices and views on India they want. The consultations with children at the state level were done in collaboration with children, partners, civil society and other child rights organisations.
The combined demands formulated by Save the Children and by children themselves will help influence and inform the political leaders and manifesto committees of various political parties.
Charter of Demands for Children
Every Child’s Right to Health and Nutrition
Every Child’s Right to Education/Early Childhood Care and Education
- Increase health budget to 2.5 percent of GDP by 2021 and to 5 percent of GDP by 2025 in keeping with WHO guidelines.
- End all forms of malnutrition and achieve the internationally and nationally agreed nutrition targets for children under 5 years of age, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women.
- End preventable deaths due to Pneumonia and Diarrhoea of children under five by at least 50% by 2025 as per the India Action Plan for Pneumonia and Diarrhoea (IAPPD).
- Focus on the water and sanitation needs of women and girls in vulnerable situations and sustain open defecation free (ODF) communities developed under Swachh Bharat Mission.
- Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all prioritizing the most marginalized and vulnerable populations.
- Enforce stringent measures to curb environmental pollution which is adversely affecting the health of children.
Every Child’s Right to Care and Protection
- Declare Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) for children from three - six years of age a legal right.
- Make age six as school entry age to grade 1 across all states in India.
- Amend Right to Education (RtE) Act to ensure upward and downward extension (children between three - six and 14 - 18 years of age).
- Provide separate budget for curriculum development, building capacities of exclusive ECCE providers at ICDS and pre-school grades across all government schools.
- Implement the RtE provision for learning in the mother tongue in the early years of school.
- Make all schools are 100% RtE compliant.
- Ensure all schools free of violence and abuse.
Every Child’s Right to Participation
- Undertake a Social Audit of Residential schools and Child Care Institutions with a view to making them free of neglect, violence and abuse.
- Increase budget for Integrated Child Protection Scheme from .5 percent to 1.5 percent of the total budget.
- Renew and make Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) more robust with greater emphasis on placing adequate and trained certified child protection workforce in all districts of India.
- Fill up all the positions on child protection as mentioned in Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 and POCSO Act 2012
- Set up special POCSO and JJA courts as per law to ensure timely justice to child victims.
- Make life skills education mandatory in schools so that the children are prepared well for various challenges of growing up.
- Ensure all government employees sign Child Protection Policy.
- Create platforms for children to participate in decision making towards planning, budgeting and implementation at all levels of governance local to national.
- Government and CSOs should build capacities of existing institutions (SMC, CPCs and Gram Sabhas) to encourage participation of children and including voices of children in the development agenda