Monday, October 19, 2009

LEGISLATORS' FORUM- a Major Initiative

In 2007, state legislators who were honored by CRT as Child Friendly Legislators of Karnataka, came forward to form a Forum of Legislators for Children. A meeting to brief this forum was also held shortly after. However, it was only in 2009 that the next two meetings took place in quick succesion, under the aegis of the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory [KCRO], a consortium of NGOs, of which CRT is the secretariat.

At the first of these two meetings, the legislators present expressed their various concerns regarding the situation of the children of the state. These included child marriage, child labour, education for
children, migration, girl child education, school conditions, the health sector, welfare schemes announced by the Government and the role of NGOs in implementation and monitoring of the

The legislators further made the following points:
  • In the interest of children, there should be measures to plug failures and loopholes that exist in some of the programmes.
  • Instead of initiating new schemes, policies and so on, the Forum needs to look out to reinforce the existing ones.
  • Support is expected from NGOs for data and factual details, as also recommendations to take action to uphold rights of the children.
  • Mere law may not help every child to come to school - concerted efforts should be done to develop at the grassroots level with poverty alleviation and economic development.
  • The Forum can strengthen local governance so that the problems can be subsequently tackled.
  • The Forum should be motivating NGOs to take children’s issues to the Gram Panchayats and prepare them to tackle children’s issues at that level with the support of the Government.
Other suggestions from participants:
  • Bring in children from various parts of the state for a face-to-face discussion with legislators to highlight their priorities and demands.
  • Link women’s issues and other poverty alleviation programmes with child development.
  • Make the child an agenda point of the local governments in their monthly meetings.
  • Commit the government to take on the SPAC review at the earliest and start planning for the next decade by 2010. Form the review team with legislators, bureaucrats, NGOs and children to look at the effectiveness of SPAC [State Plan of Action for Children, 2003-2007].
  • The UN head can be invited to address legislators on children’s issues particularly
  • keeping the MDG – Millennium Development Goals with respect to Karnataka.
Decisions and Action Point:

1. Periodical meetings need to be held to understand the status of children of Karnataka. KCRO and NGOs to help the legislators to get a clear picture.
2. The Forum members should strive to urge the Chairmen of both the Houses to devote one special day during the sessions to discuss child-related issues exclusively when it should be mandatory for the officers of the concerned departments to present and give reports on the status and progress of children in the state.
3. The UN head to be invited for a presentation on status of children on a Friday
afternoon during sessions.
4. The Forum will take responsibility of writing letters to concerned departments for
status and progress with respect to children.
5. The Forum to press upon the Grama Panchayats to take affirmative action to uphold
rights of the children and the reports from these GPs to be called from various
6. The Forum members would raise questions and calling attention notices in both the Houses on
the status report on the Karnataka SPAC 2003- 2010.
7. The next meeting will be held on the Friday, 17th July 09 to pipeline the activities of
the forum.

On the 17th July, after discussion, the Forum came up with the following action points:
  • Develop an action plan on child labour and health in one constituency as a pilot programme                                                                                                                                           - Mr. Narendra Babu's constituency, Mahalakshmi Layout. NGOs to help, after discussion.
  • A pilot study on Child Labour and Health status to to be done by KCRO for facilitate further action from Forum.
  • Share the status of children in Karnataka prepared by KCRO with all the concerned legislators and call for the status report from concerned districts.
  • Review the situation of children in every district against the status of children with the various departments in the Karnataka Development Programme.
  • A special day will be dedicated in both the Houses to discuss about children in the current session.
  • Enforcement review and CRC report for the state.
  • Launch the Forum's Taskforce on 14th Nov 09- On Children’s day. The Forum will ensure the betterment of the Karnataka State children.

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