By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
As the country celebrates the National Children’s Month (NCM) this November, a child’s rights organization called for the protection of rights of children facing discrimination and social exclusion.
As they suffer the “worst forms” of violence and social exclusion, Save the Children Philippines called for protection of rights of children facing discrimination due to poverty, and gender and cultural identity.
Save the Children Philippines Chief Executive Officer Atty. Alberto Muyot said children with disabilities, teenagers who identify as LGBTQI and young teens diagnosed with HIV “continue to face discrimination in schools and communities.”
“Rights are denied to children based on many intersecting factors, including economic situation, their gender, their ethnicity or disability,” said Muyot, a former Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd).
Last November 20 also marked World Children’s Day and 30th year of ratification of United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Save the Children founder Eglantyne Jebb wrote the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1923 and was adopted by the League of Nations, the forerunner of United Nations. The document became the basis of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
In relation to this, Save the Children Philippines has been implementing innovative programs to push for rights of children with disabilities to have access to regular classes through partnership with the DepEd.
Citing government figures, Save the Children Philippines noted that there is an estimated 1.3 million children with disabilities in the Philippines and “most of them do not have access to education due to poverty.”
Given this, Muyot underscored the need for the enactment of the Inclusive Education bill will “provide for the implementation of concrete programs and allocate budget to support education of children with disabilities especially those from deprived families and children living in remote provinces.”
Meanwhile, Muyot noted that Global Fund HIV/AIDS project of Save the Children Philippines also helps provide vulnerable people to get HIV tests and treatment in 38 high prevalence sites in nine regions in the country. The organization noted that the the target population include young key population aged 14 to 19 years old. In June 2019, at least 29 per cent or 296 of 1,006 new HIV cases are aged 15-24.
Save the Children also noted that it continues to adhere to its policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) that “recognizes the rights of children who have diverse sexual or gender identities or expression.” The said document highlights the situation of children and young people whose sexual orientation, gender identity and expression are perceived to differ from prevailing norms and face significant and sustained discrimination.
“We call on our partners in the government to use full extent of authority and resources to fulfill children’s rights to be healthy, educated and protected from all forms of violence in all settings,” Muyot ended.