Address by Governor at the digital launch of UNICEF Report on State of the World’s Children – 2016 at Conference Room, Raj Bhavan, Mumbai
Address by Shri CH Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the digital launch of UNICEF Report on ‘State of the World’s Children – 2016’ at Conference Room, Raj Bhavan, Mumbai at 1130 hrs on Monday 4 July 2016
Shri Swadheen Kshatriya, Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, Smt Rajeshwarri Chandrasekar, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Maharashtra, officers of Government of Maharashtra, UNICEF, representatives of NGOs, dear children,
I am very happy to associate myself with the digital launch of the UNICEF Report on the State of the World’s Children in Maharashtra.
It is indeed gratifying to note from UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2016 that significant progress has been made in terms of reducing infant mortality, enrolling children in schools and lifting millions of people out of poverty.
I am pleased to state that India and particularly Maharashtra has made remarkable progress on all these counts.
However, the report presents a grim picture. It has been reported that there has not been a drop in child marriage cases, 1.2 million children die before reaching the age of 5 and that a record 69 million children under 5 could die from preventable diseases by 2030.
More needs to be done to empower the children, especially the poor, orphans and those from other vulnerable groups. Much more needs to be done to stop early marriages of girls, child labour and trafficking of children.
Cleanliness has a direct co-relation with the well-being of a society and therefore more needs to be done to provide improved sanitation facilities and water sources at family, school and health facility level.
The Hon’ble Prime Minister has accorded top priority to sanitation and has called for providing access to toilets for girls in all schools. We cannot leave this programme to government alone. We certainly need a partnership between the government, NGOs and private sector organisations to provide toilets to all by 2019.
Many times district collectors require small funds to meet some of the social goals. I think UNICEF Maharashtra should serve as a catalyst in identifying and bridging the small funding gaps. With the mandatory provision of Corporate Social Responsibility, availability of funds should not be an issue.
With more than one-third of its population below 18 years of age, India has the largest child population in the world. These children are future citizens of India, and therefore the welfare and well-being of children involves us all.
I firmly believe that the first step towards empowering children and ensuring their well-being is empowering mothers. If the mother is healthy and well nourished, her children will be healthy. We will have to ensure that the mother receives the best of nutrition, food and pre-natal and post natal care so that the children born to her are healthy and do not suffer from any disadvantage.
Education is the basic right of children and we have legislations guaranteeing free and compulsory education to all children. And yet it is a fact that nearly 1.4 million people in India are out of school. We need to support initiatives like Ekal Vidyalaya in order to reach out to children through their one-teacher schools.
Every effort should be made to collect information about children who are out of school, those who quit school or are forced to quit the school. This will be the first and most important step in addressing the problem.
At a time when India is making a strong effort to emerge as the Regional Superpower in Asia, it is all the more important for us to see that our development is inclusive and sustainable and that our development takes in to account the state of our children and women.
The drought in Marathwada affected the life and livelihood of thousands and thousands of people. Even here, women and children have been more affected by the gravity of drought than men. Therefore, sustainable development is critical to empowering women and children.
The population of Maharashtra is about 11.4 crore. Even the population of Germany which is the biggest European Union country is little more than 8 crore. UNICEF is already going good work in Maharashtra through advocacy and critical interventions in many areas. I would urge UNICEF to upgrade its operations in Maharashtra and help the government in identifying and addressing inequities affecting children. I am sure, together we all can create a level playing field for all the poor and disadvantaged children. I will also UNICEF to continue to support the Swachh Bharat Mission, the Clean School and Clean India and the Kayakalp Campaign.
The State of the World’s Children Report holds a mirror to societies and nations and goads them to action. I am confident that the Government will take note of the State of the World’s Children Report, and strive to realize UNICEF’s vision of a fair chance for every child.
I congratulate UNICEF Maharashtra for its good work and wish it success in its future endeavours.