NGOs want child rights at heart of WSF

BS Reporter / New Delhi January 05, 2007

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Amid the tragedy in Nithari near Delhi, where nearly 22 children were killed in a gruesome manner, NGOs are trying hard to push child rights as the main agenda of the World Social Forum, which will open in Nairobi on January 20.

The effort began in New Delhi when participants from Africa attended the India Social Forum in September last year and sought a similar component for Nairobi 2007.

A separate session on children, child rights and child labour at the huge gathering of NGOs and activists moved the African participants. “They sought help for a similar focus at the World Social Forum,” says Raziya Ismail Abbasi of the World Social Forum India, an alliance of 450 NGOs.

Abbasi, from the India Alliance for Child Rights, which is based in Delhi and Bangalore, says Indian NGOs are determined to make a beginning for the inclusion of child rights into the agenda of the WSF.

“If five people are attending the meet, we hope to see that at least two of them are children,” she says, adding that this would be symbolic as well as provide content to the meet.

“We had a separate space for children in New Delhi. We had workshops dedicated to children. The meeting also saw children taking part as reporters,” says Abbasi.

The WSF, which brings together NGOs and trade unions under one umbrella, has a single agenda—opposing World Trade Organisation and globalisation. Several networks of NGOs on tribal rights, child rights and women, including Navadanya, Akshara Action Aid and Ekta Parishad are part of WSF India.

Amit Chakravarty, the coordinator for the WSF India says, “The inclusion of children in the agenda at Nairobi is uncertain. But a beginning is certainly being made.”

“We have made many proposals and given ideas for the WSF. We plan to link up a gathering of children in Delhi with Nairobi through the internet. This again will work if someone at the other end is ready to reciprocate,” says Abbasi.

“It might or might not happen this time. But if we fail to make child rights a part of the world agenda this time, we will do it the next time,” she says.

At least 600 participants are expected to attend Nairobi WSF from India, up from the 400 who took part in the 2005 edition of the forum, in Brazil.