During the 136th IPU Assembly in Dhaka, 40 parliamentarians carried out a field visit to two facilities catering to the needs of adolescents and disadvantaged children. The facilities—the Adolescent Development and Participation (ADP) club and the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centre—were set up by UNICEF in collaboration with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Women and Children Affairs as part of UNICEF’s overall objective to promote the rights of the child. Both centres are located in Baunia Badh, Mirpur (Dhaka).
The ADP club informs adolescent girls and boys of their rights and provides a venue to discuss issues such as child marriage, human rights, transmission of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and drug abuse. The MPs were informed that the adolescents passed on what they learned to those who could not attend the club, including families, friends and neighbours. The ECD centre caters to 54 disadvantaged children, teaching them through playgroups, and developing their linguistic, social and cognitive skills.
The MPs felt strongly that these initiatives could easily be replicated in countries where social welfare services are lacking or need improvement, and do not reach disadvantaged children. As Speaker Peter Hitjitevi Katjavivi of the National Assembly of Namibia pointed out in his report to the Assembly, the initiatives illustrated how “significant actions” could be undertaken with few resources. Following their visits, MPs made recommendations on how parliaments could contribute to promoting the rights of the child in line with the mobilization to tackle socioeconomic inequalities. Their recommendations included providing equal opportunities for boys and girls; and making the rights of the child—and children's well-being—a priority for action by parliaments.
The field visits, jointly organized by the IPU and UNICEF, took place on 3 April. The group included MPs from Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Italy, Namibia, San Marino, Spain and Sweden.