Parliament, Ombudsman vow to help kids give up labour

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UNICEF grants $120,000 to 4 NGOs working against child labour

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) on Monday announced generous grants (two prizes of US$40,000 each, one prize of US$25,000 and another of US$15,000) for the non-government organizations (NGOs) in recognition of their ‘Innovative Projects for the Elimination of Child Labour in Pakistan.’
UNICEF’s country representative Angela Kearney made this announcement on Monday Aug 1, the UN Day against Child Labour. Addressing the participants of the grant distribution ceremony, Angela Kearney assured her agency’s support to the civil society, groups and individuals working for the uplift of the children. She said, “We shortlisted one NGO each from the four provinces and one from Gilgit Baltistan and after careful evaluation of their work along with our colleagues in the Federal Ombudsman finally reached the conclusion.” Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
According to the judges’ consensus decision and on the basis of their work, the first position is won by two NGOs namely, Sudhar and Bunyad. The two NGOs are working not only against child labour but also against underage marriages, violation of child rights, torture and denial of physical and emotional rights.
Fawad Usman Ali Khan Founder of Sudhaar received US$40,000 cheque by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq. Bunyad Foundation’s representative Shaheen Attiq-Ur- Rehman also received a cheque of equal amount by the Speaker NA.
Second prize was bagged by Sujag Sansar Organization, another NGO working for the marginalized and the backward in Sindh. SSO’s representative Mashooq Ali received the US$25,000 grant. The third position was taken by VADO, a development organization from Gilgit Baltistan doing advocacy on child labour. On the occasion these NGOs exhibited short documentaries in which issues of child labour, underage marriages, plight of the children of marginalized and minority communities were highlighted.
Speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq felicitated the participating NGOs for winning the prestigious grants and hoped they would continue to highlight the plight of the children in Pakistan’s various regions. He also spoke high of the UNICEF for addressing the issue of child labour which is a stigma on society.
The government and private sector have taken several initiatives with the help of the UN to address the issues of child labour in Pakistan. Protection of Children in Pakistan is a constitutional responsibility of the State as well as our collective responsibility as citizen. NA Speaker offered the parliamentary forum to address the issues of children. Every year millions of girls and boys become victims of Child Labour around the world but majority of them belongs to the underdeveloped countries, he added.
He also praised the efforts of Federal Ombudsman, ILO and UNICEF for holding competition among civil society organizations to show how their innovative projects could address the perils of child labour in Pakistan. Speaker NA Ayaz Sadiq also suggested the UNICEF and the Ombudsperson teams o include the Azad Jammu & Kashmir in the next grant distribution process.
Speaking on the occasion Federal Ombudsman M. Salman Faruqui said that child rights were fundamental human rights, which needed to be guarded vigorously because children have no voice in decision making process and are not able to lodge complaints at competent forum.
He said, children in Pakistan constituted half of its population and these 100 million children were the country’s best assets. He stressed the need to have full time Child Ombudsman in Pakistan like 44 other countries of the world.
Ejaz Ahmed Qureshi Commissioner for Children at the Federal Ombudsperson also highlighted a number of initiatives to address child labour. UNICEF Chief Child Protection, Ms. Sarah Coleman also spoke on the occasion and gave a brief background of the process adopted to allocate grants for the NGOs working in all the four provinces and the GB.

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