‘We the Children’: Children Parliament seeks inclusive India and all rights

PRATYeK, a children rights advocacy NGO based in Delhi, also the convening organisation for the NINEISMINE campaign on Feb 3, held its 3rd annual National Inclusive Children’s Parliament where 75 children from 29 states and UT’s from the age of 11 and above, speaking more than 23 different languages, came under one roof to be part of this event and committed themselves to create an inclusive India ‘with the last child as their first priority’. Meira Kumar, the former Speaker of India’s Lower House (Lok Sabha), who was the chief guest administered this pledge to these teens. Speaking on the occasion she said, “I am spellbound by the work of these children. I am so happy to be a part of this children’s parliament, as it runs so smoothly. You should invite the current Speaker to come and see how smoothly a parliament is meant to function.”

 Being trained as young advocates, these young advocates collated a report to be submitted to the Niti Aayog and UN as part of India’s Voluntary National Review (VNR) in relation toIndia’s ‘Leave no one behind’ report on the 17 Global Goals. The child advocates of the NINEISMINE campaign insist that there is an 18th goal which they call ‘Áll rights for All children’. Children also prepared a report on the status of the rights of the child to be submitted to the Commission on the Rights of the Child. Children from different states shared their stories, challenges, and recommendations to their government. Rosy Taba, a member of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child promised to take the idea of children’s parliaments across to all the states of India

Samarpita (name changed) from Rajasthan shared how she was forced to get married at the age of 12. She insisted that the government immediately declares her marriage and all child marriages as null and void. As a child who worked really hard to get away from this culture, she taught her parents and society the consequences of child marriage. The child advocates also pressed for ending all forms of child labor. While Swaman and Smita (children with visual and developmental disabilities respectively) from Assam raised their stories to end all forms of discrimination and making society more inclusive and barrier-free.

The NINEISMINE campaign which grew out of Nelson Mandela’s call to ordinary citizens to keep governments accountable to fulfilling the MDGs and  is meant to be . a child-led movement  where Children in India took upon themselves the task to ensure the fulfilment of Goals 2 and 3 and 4 – all of which refer to children. Under this campaign, PRATYeK, is supporting 100 child parliamentarians from across the country to interaction with MPs in Parliament by November 2020.