A team from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Transportation and Communication led by the Minister, Hon. Vaden Delroy Williams and accompanied by Deputy Secretary, Mrs. Bridgette Newman and the Director of Social Development, Mrs. Tiffany Thomas Browne recently returned from their attendance at and participation in the First Regional Dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean, “ON THE ROAD TO EQUALITY”: 30 Years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, held in Santiago, Chile November 27-29, 2018 in the Raul Prebisch Conference Room, at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Building.
The sessions began on Tuesday November 27, 2018 with an Adolescent Round Table Meeting where young people from countries around the two regions met to discuss their role in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, implementation challenges and promotion of participation by children and adolescents. The young people also made presentations on a number of community projects undertaken by them which emanated from their need to participate.
On Wednesday, the Opening Ceremony saw the attendance of a number of high level dignitaries, government officials, civil society representatives as well as NGOs from countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
A number of stakeholders and practitioners in the areas of Child Protection and Social Services as well as Gender and Violence against Women and Girls Organizations were also in attendance. A contingent of more than forty bright sparks (young people) from both regions also attended the ceremony; which began with a commemorative video of the 30 years of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: this was closely followed by statements from a number of key representatives of stakeholder agencies.
Each speaker reminded the gathering of various aspects of the road travelled towards the 30 year milestone and the importance of continuing to ensure that all boys, girls and adolescents benefit from a better world.
The need to ensure countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean continue to find innovative and strategic ways to make the plight of so many boys, girls and adolescents more visible was also stressed. It was noted that inequalities, abuse and violence continue to impact the lives of boys, girls and adolescents in these regions and a plea was made to governments, NGOs, Private Sector individuals as well as Civil Society to work more closely with our young people to give them a voice and take account of the fact that young people are not just the future of Latin American and Caribbean Countries but they are the Now generation.
The remainder of the Conference was punctuated by a number of presentations and interventions by country representatives which at times left persons moved to tears, to hear the plight faced by boys, girls and adolescents in a number of these countries.
Presentations and round table discussions included topics such as:
- Dialogue Equality and Children I and II – the situation of children and adolescents in the region
- Social Protection Systems for children and Adolescents - to analyze the overall situation in the region in terms of social protection policies, legislation and strategies and to discuss how the construction and strengthening of social protection systems contribute to the fulfilment of the rights of children and adolescents, as provided for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child/ determine how social protection policies in the region have incorporated the life cycle perspective as part of a systemic and comprehensive approach to social protection as a central pillar of social society, focusing on institutional, financial and technical challenges associated with the construction of social protection systems which are sensitive and relevant to children and adolescents in the region
- Early Childhood Development – to analyze the overall situation in the region in terms of policies, legislation, programmes, strategies and efforts made by the Latin American and Caribbean States to guarantee the rights of boys, girls in early childhood as provided for in the Convention on the rights of the Child/ reflect on the importance of strengthening coordination between different sectors and stakeholders and of public and private investment, in order to scale up comprehensive programmes for early childhood
- Prevention and response to violence of all kinds - to analyze the regional situation with regard to policies, legislation, programmes, strategies and efforts made by the Latin and Caribbean States to reduce the high levels of violence against children and adolescents and to ensure fulfilment of their rights, as provided for in the Convention of the Rights of the Child/address two issues related to the expressions and consequences of violence in the region: the migration of children and adolescents and the challenges facing systems of adolescent criminal responsibility
- Development and participation of adolescents – to analyze the regional picture in relation to policies, legislation, programmes, strategies and efforts made by Latin American and Caribbean States to guarantee the rights of girls and boys in adolescence, as provided for in the Convention
In what could only be described as a most inspiring and touching closing, the young people brought forward a Declaration prepared by them and ratified by ECLAC that sought to make their feelings known about the current situation, noting that it was their belief that it was very important to ensure good development of each country, since they are the persons changing the future. That laws were necessary to protect their rights, allow them to enjoy a dignified life, good health and full childhood in addition to receiving a quality education without exclusion.
The Declaration of the young people covered proposals for change and commitments assumed by them for the full exercise of their rights in the areas of:
- Gender and Identity
Commenting on the four day experience, Minister of Home Affairs, Transportation and Communication, Hon. Vaden Delroy Williams stated; “My team and I were pleased to be a part of the First Regional Dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean, “ On the Road to Equality” 30 years of the Convention on the rights of the child. As I sat and listened to a number of the presentations and interventions by various countries and heard firsthand of the struggles that so many boys, girls and adolescents continue to face; the violence, inequality, limited access to educational opportunities and the like, I had to say that we in the Turks and Caicos Islands are truly blessed.
“Yes, there is still lots of work to be done to ensure that we give our boys, girls and adolescents a country that they can be proud of but I am happy with strides that the Department of Social Development continue to make in the area of Child safeguarding and protection.”