On 27th, April, 2017 SPARC launched its annual State of Pakistan’s Children report for the year 2016 in Islamabad. Keeping in line with previous editions, the report contained chapters on Child Rights, Child Labour, Education, Health, Juvenile Justice, Violence Against Children, as well as two additional chapters stating the state of children of IDPs and minorities.
The State of Pakistan’s Children Report 2016
Comprising of a multi-faceted overview of the state of Pakistan’s children, the report has for the last two decades been systematically documenting the evolution of child protection laws, social attitudes and key developments, with an annual overview of the state of child rights in Pakistan. This includes detailed figures on the state of education, health, juvenile justice, violence against children and child labor across Pakistan.
Opening Remarks by Sadia Hussain (Executive Director SPARC)
Speaking at the event, Sadia Hussain, Executive Director SPARC said: “Children’s rights have long been a neglected issue. While there has been progress in legislation related to child rights, Pakistan still lags behind international standards due to the poor implementation of existing child protection laws as well as a general lack of awareness on key issues”.
Key Findings of the Report Presented by SPARC’s Research Team
Explaining the report’s findings lead researcher Farshad Iqbal said: “The year 2016 came with the stark revelation that Pakistan has failed to achieve its targets under the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The reasons for this failure aren’t hard to identify, considering nearly 22 million children are still out of school, whereas nearly 50% of children in Pakistan are chronically malnourished. Furthermore, the Human Capital Development Report, 2016 has also ranked Pakistan at a dismal 118. The situation calls for immediate and effective policy measures with a strong adherence to and implementation of existing legislation, and a future course of action that can help Pakistan achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030”.
Maheen Malik the Research and Communications Officer at SPARC presented the findings of chapters on Juvenile Justice, Children of IDPs, Children of Minorities and Violence Against Children.
Panelists Highlighted Pressing Issues
The panelists for discussion on key issues at the event included; Federica Di Stefano (Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF), Danish Khan (Special Assistant to Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reform), Dr Haroona Jatoi (Professor Gender Studies), Abid Niaz Khan (National Project Coordinator at ILO) and Dr Manizeh Bano (Sahil).
The panelists discussed pressing issues related to child rights including lacunas in the implementation of laws, the need for additional legislation to safeguard child rights, and shared their personal experiences regarding child protection and child rights.
Bakht J Baryar former Member of SPARC’s CRC Officiated the Event
Bakht J Baryar (Young Development Fellow at Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform) was the panel moderator. Mr Baryar is a former member of SPARC’s child rights committees. He took active participation in managing the proceedings, Q&A session and panel discussion.
Justice (Retd) Ali Nawaz Chohan Inspired the Audience with his Inspirational Speech
Justice (Retd) Ali Nawaz Chohan Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) explained how the NCHR has been instrumental in helping the Senate rectify certain loopholes with regard to Juvenile Justice. In his address, he inspired the audience by comparing the current state of Pakistan with the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and reminded everyone of the importance to strive hard to make that dream a reality.
Comments by Chief Guest Minister of State for Education and Interior Eng Baligh Ur Rehman
Speaking at the occasion, Baligh ur Rehman, Minister of State for Education and Interior commended SPARC for its continued efforts and highlighted the importance of the report in the current socio-economic environment. He pointed out that “Over the last three years the government has made a concerted effort in improving lives of its children which is evident for instance in the increase in HEC’s allocated budget of Rs 40 billion to Rs 90 billion for tertiary education.
Also present at the occasion was Director General for the National Commission for Child Welfare and Development NCCWD, Mr. Hassan Mangi who explained how the government was working tirelessly on certain child specific laws which are very close to being passed.
SPARC Child Award for Excellence
The launch also presented an opportunity for SPARC to distribute its Child Award for Excellence, to recognize the contribution of Eiza Abid to the cause of children’s rights.
SPARC Award for Child Sensitive Media Reporting
The award for child sensitive media reporting was also presented to two prominent journalists for their contributions to the cause, including; Myra Imran from The News and Sadia Rafay from Dawn News Television.
Myra Imran receiving the Award for Child Sensitive Media Reporting from Mr Bruno Vandecasteele, First Secretary, Embassy of Belgium.
Sadia Rafay receiving the Award for Child Sensitive Media Reporting from Mr Bruno Vandecasteele, First Secretary, Embassy of Belgium.
The launch of the State of Pakistan’s Children 2016 report received overwhelming praise from civil society organizations for the compilation of concrete data from across the country to reflect the state of child rights and children’s issues in Pakistan.