Consultation workshops being held on situation of children on islands  | THE DAILY HERALD

Stakeholders who were involved in the workshops.

PHILIPSBURG–To get a further understanding of the situation of children in St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF and the respective governments organised consultation workshops with local experts and decision-makers.

UNICEF is analysing the children’s rights on the island as a follow-up of the research done in 2013.

The stakeholder consultation workshops kicked off in St. Maarten on April 4 and 5, and will continue in St. Eustatius on April 8, in Saba on April 11, and in Bonaire on April 16 and 17.

“Although there are observable similarities between the four islands, each of the islands is different with unique challenges facing children’s rights. As such, the analysis was conducted with the specific contexts in mind and the findings will be discussed with the respective stakeholders accordingly,” said Paulette Nichols, the UNICEF situational analysis expert conducting the studies.

UNICEF published situation analyses on the rights of children in St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba in 2013, which concluded that the children’s rights situation on the four islands did not fulfil all requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Poverty, domestic violence and limited data on children were among the issues reported.

The objective of these new rounds of studies has been to analyse progress and remaining or new bottlenecks as it pertains to the realisation of children’s rights since the last studies were published. Specifically for St. Maarten, the study also concentrates on adversity and risk for children in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes and how the social protection systems, including the child protection system, have responded to these changes.

During the consultation workshops, the findings are presented and discussed with local experts and decision-makers under three rights-based thematic areas: The right to economic resources and a life with dignity, which centres on poverty and vulnerability; the right to protection from violence and exploitation, which centres on the protective environment; and the living and nurturing environment, which centres on children’s rights to health, education, and participation.

The situation of adolescents and their transition into adulthood and the situation of migrant children and their families are cross-cutting themes.

The studies started on the islands in November 2018 and continued into March 2019 with extensive interviews with key informants from non-governmental organisations and the child protection, health, and education sectors, and focus group sessions including with children, adolescents, and single parents.

The consultation workshops are a key follow-up step in the process serving to review, discuss, and validate findings; identify and address remaining information gaps; and reach consensus on recommendations, key actions, and monitoring frameworks.

“Stakeholders have remained remarkably forthcoming and supportive throughout the studies, demonstrating their commitment to advancing children’s rights on their islands. These consultation workshops maximise their engagement, ensuring that they also contribute to the final outcome of the studies and take ownership of the recommendations and responsibility for the actions,” said UNICEF project leader on the situational analysis La-Toya Charles.

Once the findings are validated and recommendations are formulated during the upcoming workshops, the studies will provide a basis for advice regarding current and future policy-making on children’s rights and will identify actions that should be taken. The four final reports will be published later this year.

The St. Maarten situational analysis forms part of UNICEF’s post-Hurricane Irma recovery project in St. Maarten funded by the Netherlands Red Cross. The situational analyses in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are funded by the Dutch Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations.

Source: The Daily Herald