Bangalore, Karnataka: June 30th 2008 saw the start of a new initiative to promote and protect child rights in Karnataka.
The Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO) is a UNICEF supported initiative to monitor the situation of children in the state and to help in advocacy activities to uphold the rights of children.
KCRO is a consortium of NGOs, academic institutions and network organizations, coordinated by the Child Rights Trust (CRT).
The Observatory was formally launched by Dr. Shalini Rajaneesh, Secretary, Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD), Government of Karnataka at a simple function.
Dr. Rajaneesh expressed her appreciation for the efforts of UNICEF and CRT in bringing together various NGOs and setting up the Observatory to collect, collate and analyze the status and progress of children in the state.
Dr. Rajaneesh also explained how her department works in coordination with the Education and Health departments, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (RDPR), as well as, the Social Welfare department, in order to reach the goals set out in the State Plan of Action for Children, by 2010.
UNICEF Officer-In-Charge for the States of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Sudha Murali said that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) makes it clear that sustained realization of the rights of children hinges not only on what the Government can do but also on the outcomes of partnerships involving a broad range of allies — partnerships based on shared human rights principles, convictions and perspectives.
Ms. Murali felt that the Observatory was one such example of partnerships and hoped that the outcomes of the KCRO will benefit the children.
Explaining the concept of the Observatory CRT’s Executive Director Vasudeva Sharma, highlighted it as an omnibus project with a number of sub-projects that together converge to provide data, analysis, publicity, and support to child rights advocacy.
He also shared the genesis of the idea of initiating an Observatory on Child Rights implementation with reference to past experiences of studies, advocacy and lobbying exercises with the government, media and legislators, with the help of UNICEF.
Later in the session, CRT Trustee, Dr. Padmini explained the situation of children in Karnataka while illustrating CRT’s position in terms of child survival, protection and developments both as compared with neighbouring states and among its own districts.
Participants who came from all over the state represented NGOs, government, academic institutions, collectives and media, as well as individual researchers.
In the open-house discussion which followed, the enthusiasm of the participants was palpable as a number of ideas and issues on the basis of field experiences and observations emerged.
They suggested developing a strong, dynamic and authentic database to support various advocacy exercises in the interest of the children.
The discussion also provided some clarification on the operational aspects of having an Observatory.
The issues that were raised ranged from assessing the quality and reach of education, health services, to the accountability of the government to children.
Participants from various northern Karnataka districts felt that serious issues, like child marriage, child trafficking, malnutrition, low quality education, lack of basic facilities for children, lack of access to services, etc. should be taken up by the Observatory to reach the ears of the policy makers and the government.