South Asia Parliamentarians discussed the need for stronger investment in children and adolescents

UNICEF is hosted parliamentarians from the entire South Asia region in an effort to increase investment in children and young adults, bringing about much needed change for millions of poor and improving the prospects for healthy economic growth in the region.

The South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children being held in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 02 – 03 May 2018 aims to strengthen opportunities for children in the first two decades of their lives. Lawmakers from all eight countries in South Asia will meet to prioritize, promote, and safeguard children’s rights and discuss the prospects for further investment in Early Childhood and adolescent years.

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“While South Asia is home to one-fourth of the world’s population, its share of global income is just 4%. This fact underlines one of the biggest challenges for South Asia’s progress on the social and economic front: namely the lack of investment in its largest asset, its Human Capital – and especially the young within the society,” said Ms. Jean Gough, Regional Director of UNICEF South Asia.

The Hon’ble Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP and Hon’ble Deputy Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament, Fazle Rabbi Miah, MP attended the meeting along with Mir Showkat Ali Badsha, MP; Kazi Rosy, MP; Zebunnesa Afroz, MP; Shamsul Alam Dudu, MP; and Mahbub Ali, MP.

“Parliamentarians can play an important role in ensuring adequate sufficient funding and allocation of resources for the protection of the rights of children in the National Budget,” said Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, MP, Hon’ble Speaker of Bangladesh Parliament.

This year’s meeting focused on the region’s commitment to increased investment in children. 300 million children in South Asia are so-called multi-dimensionally poor with too little to eat, a high risk of falling sick from preventable disease and a very slim chance of ever going to school.

Evidence shows that investment in the young pays strong dividends to society. One dollar invested in quality Early Childhood Development will give a return of between 6 and 17 dollars. If low- and middle-income countries ensured preschool enrollment to half of the country’s children, the result could be cumulative lifetime earnings gains of $15 – $34 billion. The urgent, timely and adequate investments in early childhood and adolescent years will lead to well-developed brains and a highly productive workforce.

“There are very good chances for bringing about radical and important change: in most countries in the region, children and young people make up a large part of society and even smaller investments now will give good results for children and South Asian societies”, said Ms. Jean Gough of UNICEF South Asia.

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