Through a study released on Wednesday, non-governmental organisation Childs Rights and You (CRY) aims to influence political parties to focus on child-centric issues in their manifestos for the 2014 elections.

The study, released by the child rights group, of election manifestos of ten political parties during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections revealed that almost all the parties had not given sufficient importance to child rights. The qualitative analysis studies the manifestos’ approach with respect to four basic rights: the child’s right to survival, right to development, right to protection and right to participation. It revealed that children under the age of 18 and their issues got a mention of less than 15 per cent.

The two parties from Tamil Nadu that featured in the study — the AIADMK and the DMK — gave more weightage to the child’s right to development, over the other three rights.

One of the challenges, said Suma Ravi, director, south, CRY, was that children do not form a part of the electorate. “We have already met with some political parties for the campaign, and their response has been positive so far,” she said, adding that they want political parties to look at children not just from a welfare point of view.

CRY has drawn a ten-point agenda based on the study as well as the ‘Status report on child rights in India’ released on Wednesday. The agenda covers key aspects such as nutrition, education, protection, budget allocation and legislation.

The CRY manifesto calls for considering every person under the age of 18 as a child, bringing children in the 0-6 and 14-18 age groups under the purview of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, strengthening implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services, removing the distinction between hazardous and non-hazardous categories of work for children up to 18 years, reducing child mortality and morbidity, declaring access to quality primary healthcare a fundamental right, and ensuring gender parity, social equity and the rights of children with disabilities.

The manifesto also demands that 10 per cent of the Union Budget be allocated for children. It suggests specific amendments to the National Food Security Act, 2013, such as making provisions of supplementary nutrition for the 14-18 age group.

The nation-wide campaign is being launched in Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore. CRY will also have a series of events around the country to strengthen their ‘vote for child rights’ campaign.

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