Senator Ayesha Farooq spearheads new initiative for child protection in Pakistan

Senator Ayesha Farooq spearheads new initiative for child protection in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, JUN 26  /DNA/ – The French Embassy in Pakistan, in collaboration with the National Commission on the Rights of Child (NCRC), is proud to announce a new initiative aimed at promoting children’s rights. The event, held at the French Residence, was attended by key figures including Madam Senator Ayesha Farooq, chair of the NCRC, Mr. Allah Dino Khowaja, Secretary of the Ministry of Human Rights, members of Parliament, colleagues from the Diplomatic corps, and representatives from media and organizations dedicated to child protection.

During the event, the French Embassy’s contribution to the NCRC awareness campaign was highlighted. Senator Ayesha Farooq, whose enthusiasm and determination led to this collaboration, will provide further details on the campaign. The initiative includes the creation of short educational videos addressing critical issues such as child labor, sexual abuse, and the right to education.

The French Embassy’s commitment to defending and promoting children’s rights aligns with international standards and highlights the shared priorities of France and Pakistan. This joint effort underscores the importance of protecting children from violations and ensuring their rights are upheld.

Among the many projects that NCRC wanted to launch, we opted for this great idea of making short videos explaining, in a very simple and accessible way, that there are things that should never be imposed on a child – child labor, sexual abuses and being deprived from their right to education.

Defending and promoting children’s rights is an integral part of human rights and of our diplomatic action. France has adhered to all international texts protecting and promoting children’s rights. First of all, of course, the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it signed the next year, like Pakistan. France also joined to the optional protocols, namely those dealing with the involvement of children in armed conflict, the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Among our priorities, one stands out: the protection of children in armed conflicts. Between 2005 and 2022, the UN has documented more than 315.000 serious violations of children’s rights in conflict-affected regions. In order to protect “children of conflict”, France played a leading role in the adoption of UN Security Council resolutions 1539 and 1612, which established a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Grave Violations against Children in Armed Conflict.

Through this mechanism, the UN Secretary-General publishes a report each year listing the parties to armed conflicts which have been responsible for serious violations against children.

Another factor that particularly hits children is climate change, knowing also that Pakistan is, globally, one of the countries most affected by global warming. This represents an existential threat to the health and well-being of millions of children today, and of the future generations. Globally, more than a billion children currently live in countries at “extremely high risk” of suffering the effects of climate change. As a result, half of the world’s children could be victims of irreparable harm as our planet continues to warm.

Protecting the right of the child is our collective obligation and this commitment is also to be made on the ground, in concrete terms. It involves the responsibility of all stakeholders. In this regard, I would like to pay tribute to the tireless commitment of Mrs. Ayesha Farooq and her great team, as the awareness campaign led by the NCRC responds directly to article 42 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which deals with the commitment to inform children and adults of children’s rights in order to popularize among the general public the rights of children and the risks of

violence, discrimination and exploitation to which they can be submitted. At this point, I would like also to thank Ms. Madeeha Raza who made these animations. A great job, Madam, because explaining complicated or delicate situations to children or their parents in a simple way and in 3 minutes is a real challenge, which you were able to meet brilliantly. I would also like to thank the Embassy team who immediately embraced this project and did their best to make it a reality.

Beside or support to NCRC, this embassy has developed several projects to support children and children’s rights. Four examples: our support to the Prosperity Fellowship Program carried out by the Center for Law & Justice (CLJ), represented here by Mary Gill, whom I warmly greet. This program aims to promote the empowerment of young girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly the families of sanitation workers, to help them escape from their social assignment linked to their belonging to these families.

We are also proud to support the coming project of Group Development Pakistan (GDP) represented here by Mrs. Valérie Khan – bonjour Valérie ! -. And the Embassy is also happy to support the actions of Secours Islamique France in Pakistan where, a month ago, my wife and I attended a great event dedicated in particular to children, at the invitation of Mr. Altaf ABRO, whom I am also happy to say hello here.

Finally, France is very much involved in the eradication of polio in Pakistan, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, WHO and the Pakistani authorities, with a project dedicated to children under 5 years old which amounts to a total of 55 million euros. In this regard, let me congratulate you, dear Ayesha Farooq, on your appointment as Prime Minister’s Focal Person for Polio Eradication in Pakistan.

Beyond this, many specific contributions from the French Government have a direct impact on children: 3 million EUR to UNICEF Pakistan last year to support to basic health and immunization in Sindh ; 3 million EUR to UNHCR Pakistan in 2022-23 ; 7 million EUR were given to World Food Program actions in this country after the tragic 2022 floods, for nutrition intervention for pregnant and lactating women and children under 3. More is to come this year including a first grant of 2 million EUR from France’s Food Assistance Program aiming at supporting school-based interventions, including the distribution of school meals, in Baluchistan and South Punjab. And another grant of 1 million EUR, which will take the form of a contribution to strengthen food security and cash transfers in areas impacted by the 2022 floods.

Among the many victims of inequalities, conflicts and natural disasters, children are obviously the most vulnerable. This is why specific actions must be taken to protect and support them. All of us here want to contribute to it and, together, we can do it better. I am therefore very happy with this cooperation between the French Embassy and the NCRC, which unites our will, our means and certainly our heart behind a common objective which is to help the children of Pakistan.