For the first time in Bangladesh, 300 children representing the same number of electoral constituencies of Bangladesh have come face-to-face with elected Members of Parliament (MPs) to voice their demands, concerns and aspirations in Dhaka today during the 1st National Session of Generation Parliament.
Generation Parliament – a joint initiative of UNICEF and Bangladesh Debate Federation – facilitates engagement of young people in discussion of policies that have direct impact on their present and future wellbeing. It builds a bridge between children and policy makers through online platforms as well as through face-to-face interaction twice a year.
Around 600,000 young people aged between 13 and 17 years have joined this initiative.
The child parliamentarians, among other things, pressed for policy review and increased public finance for children to overcome the impediments that continue to affect their development and growth.
The 15 issues discussed during group work included child marriage, child labour, health, education, nutrition, climate change, violence against children, road safety, psychological wellbeing of children, information and communication technology, youth and employability, children with disabilities, access to information, and increased budgetary allocation for children by the government. The findings were presented by the child parliamentarians before the Honourable Deputy Speaker of National Parliament in a mock parliamentary session.
The event was attended by chief guest Deputy Speaker of National Parliament and Chief Advisor of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights Fazle Rabbi Miah MP, and by special guest President of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights Shamsul Haque Tuku MP. Also attending were Maurizio Cian, Head of Cooperation of the European Union and (Officer-in-Charge) Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh Veera Mendonca.
Veera Mendonca said, "This is a unique opportunity for children, who represent almost 40 per cent of the country's population. As they have no voting rights, they rely on others to respect, protect and fulfil their rights.
Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah MP said, "Bangladesh is currently passing through a demographic dividend. I am much relieved that the country's youth-led demographic dividend rests on responsible young citizens like you."