Mumbai: The Maharashtra government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) held a one-day consultation to provide a platform for making migration
safer for children.
The consultation on ‘Seasonal Migration and Child Rights: From Practice to Policy’ was held at the Sahyadri State Guest House in Mumbai on Wednesday.
The event was organised by the Maharashtra government and UNICEF, in partnership with Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR) and the Harvard T Chan School of Public Health, Swati Mohapatra, UNICEF Communication Specialist, said in a statement.
“The meet provided a vibrant platform for policy makers, academia and civil society organisations to discuss solutions geared towards making migration safer for children,
be it for those who move with their parents or those who stay back in their villages, by ensuring access to family or community-based care options, quality education and other
critical services,” she said.
Delegations from the governments of Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra presented accounts of the interventions they have successfully staged to secure the
protection, health and education rights of children of seasonal migrants, the statement said.
Discussions during the open house that followed each presentation led to an understanding of unique responses that have addressed the vulnerabilities of a population on the move.
“The Maharashtra government is well aware of the enormity of the challenge posed by seasonal migration to the realisation of the rights of the children affected. We have
the third highest number of seasonal migrants in India,” Maharashtra chief secretary Sumit Mullick.
Henriette Ahrens, deputy director Programmes UNICEF India Country Office said, “Migration is a fundamental right of every citizen and a means to achieve financial security for lakhs of families.”
“But if essential services like health and education are not accessible to families with children on the move, or those who leave their children behind, seasonal migration can
jeopardise realisation of children’s rights,” Ahrens said.
Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief of Field Office UNICEF Maharashtra said, “Seasonal migration is a part and parcel of life. The right to mobility is guaranteed by the Constitution.
“UNICEF is concerned about how seasonal migration adversely affects children when they are denied access to quality education, healthcare, shelter, and other social services
during the annual 6-8 month upheaval,” she said.
“Such children stand the risk of early marriage and of becoming child workers, facing more exploitation and abuse,” she added.