AHB President’s Message

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Children as cross-cutting issue – what does that mean?

Why a workshop on “children as cross cutting issue”? What does that mean at all? Does it have any relevance for me at all, as I am not implementing any children projects?

These were some of the questions for many of our partners, when we invited you for that workshop in Bhopal in October 2015. In fact our partners are very much diverse – not only in their character, their motivation and their experience, but also in the type of development work, they are focussing on. They work in different sectors with different target groups and different approaches.
So, what does “children as cross cutting issue” mean in that scenario? Is there something that can be shared by ALL?

Whatever we define as our mission, in one way or other we all do work with dedication for a world, which is more worth living in for all; a world, in which progress means more humaneness and more justice; a world, in which fullness of life is secured for present and future generations.
And we all do work with and for those, who are most underprivileged, discriminated against, poor, deprived of resources, opportunities and even dignity. Whether we are working with Dalit or Adivasi, with landless poor or slum dwellers – most vulnerable are the CHILDREN! They are the ones, who suffer most from malnutrition, ill treatment, hard labour, discrimination – physically, psychologically, emotionally – and that not only today! What they are lacking as a child – and experiencing as a child – that is going to have a lasting impact deep within them – for the rest of their life! If they are wounded, neglected, ill treated as child – they will never be able to develop their potentials fully and the wounds of early childhood will never heal fully. That is why we – the adults of today – do have a special responsibility for the children of today – irrespective of the specific field, we are working in!

We may assume that all the development projects that we implement do automatically contribute to the growth and development of children. But do they really?

Whatever the focus of our work is, the following 10 points related to children can encourage us to reflect, if we take our responsibility towards these precious, unique gifts, these most vulnerable human beings, seriously:

  1. Do we know the facts about the situation of the children in our project area – at the beginning of the project and today? We should not rely upon general statistics, but collect clear data: basic information regarding number of children – age group wise, sex ratio, nutritional and health status, children with disabilities, educational status, discrimination against dalit/adivasi children at school, number of school drop outs/child labourers, migrating children, child marriages, trafficking etc. – Whether we work/plan to work specifically with children or not: We should at least KNOW their situation!
  2. Do we analyse the impact of our projects on the children – and especially on girl children? (Do you have clear indicators for measuring the changes? Who is taking the responsibility? Are the parents involved? The children themselves? How is this analysis being done?)
  3. Do the findings of our analysis in any way influence our further planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating?
  4. Do we have any mechanisms that the voices of children are being heard? (Are we interested in the opinion of children while planning a development project? Are they involved in the implementation in any way? Do they have any role in decision making – at least concerning the plans for their own development? )
  5. The UNCRC (United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child) has four central themes: (a) Survival rights (b) Development rights (c) Protection rights (d) Participation rights. Do we know how far the people in our project area – target group and others are; adults and children – are aware of these rights? And of the special programs of the Indian Government to ensure these rights? Is there anyone working actively in our project area on making these rights a reality for the children (Gram Sabha, PRIs, government officers, NGOs, CBOs, SHGs, Child Welfare Committee, District Child Protection Unit, Parents Teachers Associations etc.)?
  6. Do we do anything/plan to do anything in that regard (e.g. creation of awareness on children’s issues such as child labor, child nutrition, education, child trafficking, etc. and child rights in all groups/in the community in general; tapping Government schemes for children; compiling and documenting data for advocacy; promotion/strengthening of Child Rights Protection Committees)?
  7. Do we do anything/plan to do anything to build up/strengthen the capacities of children to take up issues, affecting them (e.g. formation of children’s parliaments to take up issues unitedly and to take them also to officials)?
  8. Do we do anything/plan to do anything to train our team members to realize issues, negatively affecting children in their working area (malnutrition, severe health problems, mental and/or physical development retardation, abuse – including sexual abuse, violence – including domestic violence and violence at school, etc.)?
  9. Do we do anything/plan to do anything to train the parents to realize issues, negatively affecting children (malnutrition, severe health problems, mental and/or physical development retardation, abuse – including sexual abuse, violence – including domestic violence and violence at school, etc.) / to give them practical guidance for improved care for their children e.g. regarding health, education, emotional needs?
  10. Do we exchange our experiences with other actors/other NGOs? Do we create space/plan to create space for such an exchange of experiences?

– Ms. Elvira Greiner, President of AHB