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Disadvantaged children need equal opportunities: President

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the factors hampering the progress of disadvantaged children need to be removed and equal opportunities provided to them through policy actions taken by the government.

Speaking during the opening session of the first-ever ‘Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit’ in New Delhi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, he said everyone, including the government, has to commit themselves “to the noble task of fulfilment and protection of child rights everywhere”.

“The President said programmes and actions for children have to take centre stage in national policy-making. We have a shared responsibility to reduce the inequalities that harm the underprivileged children more than any other age group,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.

“The path towards an equal future will come through prioritizing. The disparities in education, health and poverty indicators will have to be eliminated.

“The factors hampering the progress of disadvantaged children will have to be removed. We, indeed, have a moral obligation towards our children, towards their development and security and in giving them equal opportunity,” the spokesperson quoted the President as saying.

Mukherjee added “our children will inherit a world that we would devolve them”.

“It is our responsibility to ensure that such a world is a better place than what we were given. Exploitation of resources and degradation of the environment is posing a serious challenge to sustainable development.

“It is manifested in the ill-effects of climate change. Developing economies, which are closely tied to climate sensitive sectors like agriculture and forestry are more vulnerable to climate change,” he said.

He also spoke about the disadvantages and problems faced by children world over.

The President said problems of varying degrees afflict children from the seemingly less severe like bullying at school to cases of sexual harassment, child marriage and trafficking, according to the spokesperson.

“Children are also denied education in several parts of the world. They are still suffering from malnutrition and are dying of preventable diseases. According to UNICEF, 80% of child deaths occur in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

“In regions marred by armed conflicts, violence and insurgencies, children are the most affected. There are many children amongst refugees who face an uncertain future,” Mukherjee said.

The two-day summit, organized by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Children Foundation, will deliberate on the issues of building a strong moral platform for protecting children from violence and ensuring a world where children are free to be just children.

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and other dignitaries also addressed the event.

PTI