India - Child Empowerment for vulnerable children and Human Rights in Goa India
Primary thematic focus: Sub-national capacity development: local solutions, national strengths
In a Nutshell:
Child Empowerment with a rights based approach makes capacity is development with participation a reality rather then it remaining a rhetoric. In a patriarchal society as is in India equality in rights is only achievable if children become social actors rather then mere beneficiaries in any child related programmes.
The prevention and protection of children against abuse and exploitation must begin by giving them the enabling environment where they can practically understand the meaning of their rights and responsibilities as citizens of a country that has a remarkable constitution. Unfortunately this is not so in India since empowerment of women and children is hinged to factors such as caste, class religion which does not give equality as proscribed by international covenants or the Constitution.
Goa is a small state that has many firsts with regard to Child rights and the Goa children’s Act 2003 is based on the UNCRC. Goa has a children’s Court, and a State Commission for the protection of child rights. Despite these mechanisms there is no way to monitor how children have benefited from these legal tools of redress! Therefore Mitsuko trust started a child participation centre with a difference. It places Article 12 of the UNCRC as central to its function allowing children ownership of the programme by actively participating in decisions affecting them.
The centre uses IT to impart activities on rights related topics which the children look forward to as it gives them a chance to use computer as tools for learning. To involve varied stakeholders like individuals from civil society, NGO’s INGO’s government the centre invites resource persons who can interact with the children and talk or showcase to them the work they do.So far we have had a reputed journalist who has started work with them on a newsletter, an artist who got them to express with self portraits their inner feelings,and recently a potter who showed them how to work with clay and they made many small artifacts and put them together and narrated stories based on the objects they had made! The adults enjoyed the process and interacted easily with all the children in a spirit of freedom and sense of dignity while the children asked many interesting questions without any fear or restraint.
As child rights advocates, the Director of the centre and the consultant worked as facilitators leading interaction in order to create the enabling environment to allow for free flow of information and to document the process to make it replicable after the present project runs its course. It is planned to make modules with video of the process which is taken by the children so they get footage of the sessions as they would like to see it.
Results and Critical Factors:
The Centre for Child participation\empowerment was begun on 11th Dec. 2009 after watching how the state mechanisms functioned despite all the child friendly instruments in place. It was observed that child rights was not seen as a given rather it was brought to the foreground by NGO’s when a case of child abuse or exploitation took place leading to further trauma for the child.It is envisaged that when children are empowered to question and use legal recourse to substantiate their position by awareness of the UNCRC,the Goa Children’s Act then they would be able to put a stop to being gullibleand misled by adults who are conditioned to treat children as objects or victims to enable their own power structures of suppression and oppression to continue within a rigid social system that does not encourage self actualization or identity to those perceived as weaker or vulnerable. Policies and mindsets too are closely linked hence government needs practical solutions and the centre aims to achieve that through the children who are taking ownership. The children presently part of the programme belong to Zindagian NGO of PLHIV in Goa and World Vision is supporting them in a project called ECHAMP-Empowering children of HIVAIDS for mitigation. It also has children who are orphans living in a home called Care and Compassion.
Name of Primary Contact Person: Ms. Anita Mathew
Title of Primary Contact Person: Consultant (women and child rights,Goa, India)
City: Panjim,Goa, India