Islamabad: The Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) with the support of Save the Children, Pakistan on Monday held a high-level consultation on increasing budget allocation and child spending.
Children’s rights activists demanded that federal and provincial governments increase resource allocations to improve the status of children’s rights in Pakistan Riaz Ahmed Fatyana, chairman of the Standing Committee on Law and Justice of the National Assembly of Pakistan, went say that special measures are needed to safeguard the rights of vulnerable children.
Global spending on children’s rights needs to be increased, especially the percentage of development budgets in education, child health and nutrition and child protection.
He highlighted inadequate spending as a key reason for Pakistan to fail in most child-related indicators of development goals. He expressed concern that unless an adequate budget for children’s rights is allocated, Pakistan will also not meet the requirements of the sustainable development goals.
He concluded that all political parties will have to unite and make general efforts, otherwise Pakistani children will continue to suffer. Afshan Tehseen Bajwa, chairman of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC), added that the federal and provincial government must ensure that budgets for all child-related indicators are published on time and not cut. random.
Budget allocations should also include a higher proportion of non-wage than non-wage expenditures and should focus more on the development budget to meet Pakistan’s challenges. In addition, all programming must respond to the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Khalida Ahmed, a member of BoDs, Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), said approximately 47% of the total population of Pakistan comprises children under 18 years of age.
However, this population group should be our priority, due to the lack of will of political leaders; these children are deprived of their rights to survival, protection and development. He mentioned the low spending on children’s rights as a key reason why Pakistan is not fulfilling its international and national commitments to children’s rights. He added that the National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC) should work sooner to ensure compliance with Pakistan’s international commitments.
Syed Safdar Raza, a senior child rights activist, mentioned the need for major infrastructure reforms to raise the standard of living of Pakistani children. Whether it’s health and nutrition, dangerous labor, early marriages, trafficking, sexual abuse, and exploitation; significant reforms are needed to ensure that the rights of all children are protected and delivered.
Khalil Ahmed Dogar, program manager, SPARC, recalled Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first speech to the nation in which the Prime Minister mentioned about the deplorable state of health of children in Pakistan. In addition, he added that, despite such a large commitment, we see that there are still no improvements in children’s health. In the budget, there is no special allocation for child health and nutrition.
Khalil Ahmed further stressed that Pakistan has not made much progress in its commitment to provide free and quality education to all children under Article 25-A of the constitution. He mentioned that according to official statistics, Pakistan has 22.84 million children out of school (aged 5 to 16), which is the second highest figure in the world. Allocating teachers’ salaries is not the same as working on education. An adequate budget should be allocated to convert primary schools into middle and secondary schools to reduce the dropout rate of children.
Amer Ejaz, director of the Center for Budgetary Studies, CPDI, Zahra Naqvi, National Coordinator, Movement for the Rights of the Child, also spoke on this occasion and said that the initial perception of COVID-19 that only affects the elderly and people with previous health conditions has disappeared. People have realized that children have been the most important cash in this situation.
Their access to education, health, nutrition, protection and mental and physical development has been a blow. If policymakers do not consider this reality in the allocation of resources for children’s rights, the very survival of our children will be at stake.