BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
Children below 18 years of age comprise 41% of the population of Rajasthan. If the teenagers till the age of 19 years are included in this population, the figures touch 49.6%, requiring special steps for their holistic development by the government and the society at large. Despite the efforts made by the government, the condition of children is not satisfactory. Without an effective intervention for improving their situation, children cannot become responsible citizens of tomorrow.
The child rights are universally defined by the United Nations and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). According to the UNCRC adopted in 1989, Child Rights are minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be afforded to all persons below the age of 18 years, regardless of race, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origins, wealth, birth status or ability and therefore apply to all people everywhere. The U.N. finds these rights interdependent and indivisible, meaning that a right cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another right.
The UNCRC defines a child as “any human being below the age of 18 years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. Children's rights includes their right to association with both parents, human identity as well as the basic needs for physical protection, food, universal state-paid education, health care, and criminal laws appropriate for the age and development of the child, equal protection of the child's civil rights and freedom from discrimination. Interpretations of children's rights range from allowing children the capacity for autonomous action to the enforcement of children being physically, mentally and emotionally free from abuse.
The “Dasham – Children's Participation in Democracy” campaign has been undertaken in Rajasthan to get the attention of political parties and elected representatives to the issues crucial for children below the age of 18 years. The initiative is aimed at inculcating democratic aspirations among children and ensuring their participation in the democratic process and public causes in both the Rajasthan Assembly election of 2018 and Lok Sabha elections of 2019.
The project has been undertaken by organising a series of two-day workshops at all the seven divisional headquarters of Rajasthan since August 31, 2018, in which the children's issues were discussed with the representatives of 135 organisations and media persons of the respective regions.
The initiative has been undertaken by the Rajasthan Baal Adhikar Sanrakshan Sajha Abhiyan in association with the Girls Not Bride - Rajasthan Group, Rajasthan RTI Forum, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and Baal Suraksha Network with the support of UNICEF-Rajasthan, Save the Children, Action Aid, Plan India, UNFPA and World Vision.
The two-day workshops of children were organised by Baal Suraksha Nework in Udaipur on August 31 to September 1, while Educate Girls organised the workshop in Ajmer on September 5 and 6. Urmul Trust organised two workshops in Bikaner on September 6 and 7 and in Jodhpur on September 8 and 9. FXB India organised the workshop in Jaipur on September 11 and 12, while Prayatn and AMIED organised it in Bharatpur on September 14 and 15. Antakshari Foundation and Bharat Scouts and Guides organised the workshop in Kota on September 17 and 18.