Laureates and leaders unite for children

December 10, 2016 10:41 pm | Updated 10:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Nobel laureates, representatives of organisations that have won the Nobel Prize for Peace and world leaders gathered at Rashtrapati Bhavan for a summit titled ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children’ on Saturday.

The two-day summit organised by Kailash Satyaythi Children’s Foundation was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee, during which deliberations were held on how the world can be united through compassion for children.

Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2014 Kailash Satyarthi, in his opening remarks, said “Billions of children continue to be enslaved, trafficked, made to starve, denied education and die of curable diseases across the world and only a common resolve, bold moves, new solutions and new partnerships can solve these problems.” He hoped that the summit would be an “assembly of compassion” that could drive the change.

The President said it was disappointing to see children struggling for basic needs, and being caught in child labour, child slavery and other forms of exploitation. The factors hampering the progress of disadvantaged children would have to be removed, he said. The laureates and leaders agreed that at a policy level, there was no dearth of initiatives but pressure was required to ensure their implentation.

In a session titled ‘Let us Globalise Compassion for our Children’, the Dalai Lama (Nobel Peace Laureate, 1989) said the majority of the world’s problems had been created by the humans who should come together to solve them.

‘Give them a voice’

Princess Charlene of Monaco opined that children had a right to participate in discussions that affected them and “we need to give them a voice”.

Princess Laurentien of The Netherlands expressed regret that the world had not been able to tackle the issues children faced, and asked change-makers to go beyond knowing the issues to doing something to solve them.

The loudest applause at the summit was reserved for a 16-year-old Imtiyaz Ali, a former child worker rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan, who said the combined will of the delegates could change the world. He added “We, the children have questions. And, I bring them to you. How much longer are we to wait?”

The summit broke into 20 round table conferences titled ‘Circles for Freedom: Lend Voices to our Children’ to ideate on building a world free from all forms of child exploitation. A discussion on ‘Childhood Freedom’ moderated by Kevin Watkins, Chief Executive, Save the Children-U.K., followed.

The Chairman of Kasturi and Sons and former Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, N. Ram, moderated the final session on ‘Creating Better Lives: Healthy and Educated Children’ in which former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Nobel Peace Laureate (2011) Tawakkol Karman participated.

As many as 25 laureates and leaders, over 150 eminent personalities from various walks of life and youngsters participated in the summit.

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