KATHMANDU, September 7: The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) South Asia launched the first South Asia Religious Leaders’ Platform for Children in Kathmandu.
The launch brought together more than 30 influential leaders and distinguished representatives from various religious communities across South Asia to underline the critical role they can play in promoting the fulfilment of child rights and also to harness regional solidarity towards a brighter future for all children in the region.
According to UNICEF, South Asia – home to 1.7 billion people and 621 million children under 18 – despite economic growth and consequent improvements, massive disparities still exist preventing children from living in dignity, reaching their full potential and making choices about their futures.
With religious communities in South Asia having extensive networks and moral influence throughout the region, their potential to tackle some of these challenges and achieve real results for children is highly advantageous.
Jean Gough, Regional Director of UNICEF South Asia, during her opening speech, said that religious communities and UNICEF have a long history of shared values and goals of advancing children’s rights and enhancing their wellbeing.
She said that they continued to be our indispensable partner especially in focus on reaching the poorest, most vulnerable and hardest to reach children and families.
“If we can fully tap the enormous potential of our partnerships by building on each other’s strengths, we can achieve tremendous results for children,” she said.
It was also a unique opportunity to encourage open dialogue, even about complex and sensitive issues like child marriage and open defecation.
The two-day meeting ended with the religious leaders’ declaration of setting aside differences in backgrounds, culture and traditions and steadfastly carry forward their resolve to putting children’s rights and wellbeing at the centre of their religious agenda and actions.
Philippe Cori, Deputy Regional Director of UNICEF South Asia thanked the participants for joining hands in efforts and commitment to use their influential voice and support for the development of children in our region.