Secretary-General opens Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents
H.E. Mr. Ahmed Saleem, Secretary - General of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) opened ‘The Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents in South Asia’ in Kathmandu today.
In his opening statement, the Secretary-General stated, “The first decade of this Century was designated as the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child. In 2011, SAARC and UNICEF produced a report assessing the progress towards children’s rights in the region. This report was launched at the Seventeenth SAARC Summit held in Addu City of Maldives in November 2011. One of the eight recommendations of that Report called for enhanced investment in quality education, health and social services that respect, protect and fulfill adolescents’ rights. The related action points called for strong leadership to address harmful social norms, investment in education and life skills, mechanisms to encourage adolescents’ voice and participation, and integrated and inter-sectoral approaches to programming for adolescents, particularly for girls and the most marginalized."
In his Address, the Secretary-General further stated, "The Dialogue provides a forum for all stakeholders to work towards addressing the recommendations of the Assessment Report of the SAARC Decade of the Rights of the Child, with special emphasis on the prevalent adolescent policies and strategies in the SAARC countries."
Mr. Ibrahim Zuhuree, Director, who heads the Social Affairs Division at the Secretariat, made introductory remarks at the Inaugural Session. Ms. Karin Hulshof, Regional Director, UNICEF Office for South Asia delivered welcome remarks. On behalf of adolescents, Ms. Mehaki Thapa, Child Advisory Board Member for Child Workers in Nepal and Member of Child Rights Forum, made a special presentation at the Inaugural Session. Ms. Helen Cahill, Associate Professor in Student Wellbeing and Deputy Director, Youth Research Center, University of Melbourne, Australia delivered the keynote address.
The Regional Policy Dialogue on Adolescents brings together policy-makers, academia, civil society organizations and adolescents themselves to debate and agree on concrete policy actions aimed at respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of adolescent girls and boys in the region. This initiative is a product of SAARC's longstanding collaboration with UNICEF.