The Joining Forces Alliance, of which ChildFund is a member, and other leading child rights groups have released a new statement calling on governments in Asia to put children’s rights at the heart of all COVID-19 responses.
The group said: “As the world grapples to address the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, there is a growing need for a collective, coherent, and multi-stakeholder response to the pandemic.
“We welcome that the two intergovernmental regional bodies – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – have declared their commitment to take regional-level measures to fight the pandemic and address its impacts.”
The Alliance is calling on ASEAN, SAARC, and their respective Member States to adopt a child rights-based approach, and recommends that they:
- Address violence against children by allocating a portion of the COVID-19 national and regional response budgets to child protection systems and services.
- Share experiences, expertise, and good practices on children’s mental health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene to reinforce public health regional cooperation.
- Include experts on child rights and women’s and girls’ rights in regional coordinating bodies tasked with planning, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating regional strategies to address the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies.
- Ensure food security and nutrition of children when responding to the financial impact of COVID-19 and improving the stability of the regional economy.
- Provide inclusive access to education as part of the COVID-19 regional response and recovery plan.
- Ensure that public information campaigns are adopted for children and that children are genuinely consulted in the pandemic response.
- Strengthen regional child rights efforts by including the perspectives of civil society and children during the COVID-19 crisis
The group notes: “While children have been mainly spared by the virus, the COVID-19 crisis has affected children’s human rights in a number of ways.
“The pandemic and the response to it have profound effects on children’s physical health, mental wellbeing, education, social development, protection, and participation. All children in all countries are affected.”
Read the full statement here.
Joining Forces is an alliance of the six largest child-focused international NGOs: ChildFund Alliance, Plan International, Save the Children International, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, and World Vision International.