ISF CHILDREN'S SECTORAL PROCESS: MOBILISATION UPDATE

The children's sectoral process committed itself to bring child rights to the attention at ISF, by highlighting the issues of children's right to equal access to development, the challange of discrimination, education, security, health, labour, justice for girl children, housing and shelter, violence against children, female foeticide and child marriage. The persistence of exclusion, and the goal of inclusion were repeatedly raised. The fallout of displacement and eviction on children's lives was flagged as a big problem.

The Government's decision to bar children below 14 from domestic labour and work in teashops/dhabas was challenged by child participants who are now facing that bar. Protection and rehabilitation for these children was identified as an urgent concern, to be raised at ISF. The children themselves demanded education --with assurance of quality -- as a key component of whatever the Government might now plan to offer them.
The participation of 80 persons included 40 children, mostly street-based child workers and children of unauthorised slum settlements and slums. Ideas and concerns emerging from the ongoing 'Child Rights for WSF (CR4WSF)' networking and insights from the three years of the CR4WSF process shared by Kishore Jha underlined the fact that the child rights advocacy effort to position children's entitlements in the WSF agenda date back to 2003.
The children took part in strength, and flagged issues that they want to see headlined at ISF. Nine-year-old Preeti made a rousing call for State and Society to respect children from less-advantaged settings, as persons with a rightful claim on dignity.

WSF-India was represented by several IWC members, who addressed the
meeting. Vijay Pratap, Uma Kant and Babulal Sharma made keynote statements and interventions. Rakesh Bhatt, Hrishikant and Youth Forum
representatives attended in solidarity. Among those who expressed active interest are National Alliance for Dalit Human Rights, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Action-Aid, National Federation of Indian Women, Childline-India Foundation, Joint Women's Programme. Razia Ismail Abbasi moderated the day-long discussions.

The gathering pledged to work collectively to make the best use of the opportunities opened up by the creation of a children's sectoral process. Meetings for action planning and wider sharing are to take place in Gujarat, Punjab - Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and ongoing mobilisation activities in other states will work on their action commitments based on priorities agreed at the Delhi meeting.

Recognising and welcoming the fact that WSF-India has scored a "first" in setting up the children's sectoral process, participants proposed ideas for appropriate inclusion of children in the ISF opening and closing.The WSF-India organised keynote conference on 'Faces and Vision of Children' was hailed as a critical opportunity to give children's issues due place in ISF.
The meeting issued an open invitation to all those interested in
promoting and upholding this newly recognised agenda priority to join
in the children's sectoral process.

Contact for information on the children's sectoral process:
isfchildren@gmail.com
Telefax: 011 24376025.