Save the Children is committed to ensuring every last child has the opportunity to survive and learn. Child participation is an important aspect of realising this goal. Save the Children India is listening to and sharing the voice of children, especially those from excluded communities. As a result, two platforms were created through Children's Parliament in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh (Lucknow).
Children speak about Sustainable Development Goals
In December 2015, a Children's Parliament was held at the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly, which was attended by 150 children, many from urban slums. This was presided by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister of UP, Parliamentary Affairs Minister and some Cabinet Ministers. Some of the children share which goal from the SDGs is most important to them below.
I feel that SDG 8 for Decent Work and Economic Growth is of utmost importance as education and development must be provided together. Just providing education is not enough, as we need livelihood for children passing out of the schools for proper growth and development. Pawan, 15 years
SDG 4 relating to Quality Education is a must as women and girls can be empowered and protected only if they have access to education. Yasmeen, 12 years and Anas, 13 years
SDG 3 on providing Good Health and Well Being is a non-negotiable right and goal for children. Malnutrition can be eradicated only if we make people aware on what is a balanced and essential diet for proper growth and development of a child. Shelly, 16 years
I feel that there is a steep drop in moral values in rural areas and this directly affects issues like gender inequality and promotes female feticide. Therefore, focus on the SDG 5 related to Gender Equality is a must and a lot of awareness must be created about it. Aishwarya, 14 years
Children share their experience of attending a Parliamentary session
In November 2015, 14 Child Rights Advocates were selected during Children's Consultations and were invited to the State of West Bengal Legislative Assembly to interact with the relevant senior members of Legislative Assembly on issues that concerned children and their well-being. We interviewed four of these children on their experience.
How did you feel being at the Legislative Assembly/Vidhan Sabha?
I come from a poor family and wondered if the Members of the Legislative Assembly would even care to listen to what we had to say? But then, I found a space where I could speak, question and argue. The best part being that they listened! - Suru Birwa
What did you learn from your experience at the Legislative Assembly?
I learnt that we too can participate; we too can raise our voice. Also, at a personal level, while brainstorming with didi's (referred to Save the Children staff) I learnt how to articulate my thoughts in a way that is understandable. - Suru Birwa
I learnt how so many other children too are affected by similar issues and we need to raise voice for ourselves. - Prashanta Sarkar
I learnt about the structure and the functioning of the Legislative Assembly. - Reshmi Khatoon
Why do you think more such platforms are required?
Usually, children are used as a medium through which adults can say what they want the authorities to hear. But for opportunities like this, it was the real us speaking out what we actually felt. - Prashanta Sarkar
Children's participation in planning is essential to protect the rights of the children. We are in the best position to tell about the problems we are facing in our localities. - Alamgir Molla
What would you say to other children about this? How can you encourage other children?
Go and do what you think is right. Stand up for all the children! - Prashanta Sarkar
Take leadership in forming children's groups in each village…share your problems…don't be scared…resist any form of violence against children - Reshmi Khatoon
Don't be afraid…voice out your rights - Alamgir Molla
What have you done since your visit what is next for you?
I visited a primary school, spoke to the children and local communities and submitted a report on the need to improve living conditions. I now want to strengthen other groups and make them aware of their rights. - Alamgir Molla
We discussed about the lack of cleanliness around the tube wells (the main source of drinking water) in our village. We created a small group of 15 children and by donating Rs. 2 for cleaning material we cleaned the tube well. Now the villagers are using the tube well. We are very hopeful that together we will make our environment clean and healthy. - Reshmi Khatoon