Investing in children, youth 'will help offset effects of ageing society'
Thailand, as the chair of Asean, has made pledges to protect children's rights as a silver cloud looms over the region on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
The CRC is the international agreement on childhood adopted in 1989. All Asean members ratified the CRC by 1995. To date 196 countries have endorsed the treaty.
Minister of Social Development and Human Security Chuti Krairiksh underlined the importance of child welfare to prepare for ageing societies.
"The dynamics of a larger elderly population and smaller child and youth populations raise concern over future productivity and economic security, making an investment in children and youth even more critical," he told the forum.
The Asean Commemorative Event on CRC@30 was held at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel in Bangkok. It also launched a report on the situation of children in Asean, highlighting challenges and making recommendations.
In this regard, Mr Chuti said Thailand has been investing in early childhood development.
"It is a cost-effective measure to improve human capital. We give all children the best possible start, including maternal care, care for newborns, and child health, nutrition services, positive parenting, and responsive care. The investment in early childhood development increases access and learning in education," he said.
Mr Chuti added that cash grants provide adequate care to children and help secure their access to services.
"For children living in poverty, the cash benefit scheme is a key component of the social protection system. It can ensure that families can fulfill their basic needs. This year, the grant was expanded to cover children of up to six years of age. The threshold of families was increased to provide greater coverage," he said.
Meanwhile, Karin Hulshof, the Unicef regional director for East Asia and the Pacific, stressed the role of children in light of Asean's theme.
"Children are part of the country's sustainable future. Investing in children and your people is essential to achieving SDGs. Protecting and fulfilling the rights of every child in Asean is part of human security and prosperity," she said.
However, Ms Hulshof urged Asean to endorse additional agreements.
"On Sep 27 this year, all Asean members ratified the CRC Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
"We look forward to the ratification of two other Optional Protocols on the sale of children and a communications procedure," she added.