UNICEF campaigns for children’s rights in Mexico election period

Saturday, July 07, 2012
Mexico City: On 1 July, almost 50 million Mexicans voted for a new president and other office-holders. They also voted for children as the three main presidential candidates had signed up for a UNICEF-led campaign Diez por la Infancia (“10 for children,” which in Spanish has a double meaning with “diez” also meaning “good”) calling for 10 strategic actions for children and adolescents.

Launched on 25 April nearly coinciding with Mexico’s national Day of the Child, the campaign was publicized through the media, social networks and public events at federal and state level. It was aimed primarily at candidates who might become president, state governors, members of parliament or holders of other offices.

But more broadly, it was also directed at population of Mexico, asking everyone to commit to 10 concrete actions whether in politics, their communities or personal lives. The actions covered different fields, from heath to education, nutrition to adolescent participation, the juvenile justice system to preventing violence.

“In a context riddled with inequities, where children in need are often seen as subjects of assistance rather than rights-holders, it is essential to improve public attitudes, for example as regards child labour or adolescent participation”, said UNICEF’s Representative Susana Sottoli.

“We have therefore called for all Mexicans to unite for children, to work together towards the full achievement of their rights, and the response has been extremely encouraging,” she added

Internationally-celebrated singer Cesar Costa and Mexican footballer Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández, who plays for the British football team Manchester United, were among the first to embrace the initiative as national ambassadors for UNICEF Mexico.

The campaign generated an enthusiastic response through social networks and a dedicated website, enabling thousands of ordinary citizens to join in by expressing their commitment to the 10 actions.  With UNICEF’s lead, the initiative was also promoted by UNICEF’s Consultative Committee, a local group of prominent members of civil society and opinion leaders who support UNICEF, and by the NGO  consortium “Red por los Derechos de la Infancia” (Network for Children’s rights).

The three main presidential candidates – Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Enrique Peña Nieto, now presumed President-Elect, and Josefina Vásquez Mota – were soon on board and committed to push for the 10 actions if elected.

“Leaving political differences aside, the candidates accepted that the rights of children and adolescents are a priority that must be solidly placed on any public policy agenda,” Ms. Sottoli said. “We are now waiting to see these commitments translated into public policies and implemented.

“Further ahead, we hope to see monitoring mechanisms in place to enable different actors and society at large to assess achievements made.  From our side, we will continue providing technical support to the Mexican institutions, as well as sustained advocacy for children’s rights.”

Beyond the elections, the campaign will continue in the political, technical and public domains. Along with revived advocacy regarding the Government-elect, UNICEF Mexico is launching a number of interactive competitions for people to publicly support the 10 actions – as a way for them to publicly embrace a rights-based approach towards children’s rights and encourage others to do the same.

These efforts are part of UNICEF Mexico’s achievements in promoting investment in children, and keeping their rights at the top of the national agenda. Due in good part to UNICEF’s political advocacy, the country is now at the forefront of efforts to plan and monitor investment in children. The 2012 federal budget contains a critically innovative annex identifying the exact portions of the budget that will benefit children and adolescents – a first step in the response to UNICEF’s long-standing calls for quality investment in children.

The 10 actions for children are:

Ensure appropriate health and nutrition for all children in early childhood, in order to secure a good start to their lives.

Ensure access to drinking water and healthy food in all schools, as well as educational strategies for good nutrition.

Issue free birth certificates to all children during their first year of life.

Ensure quality education for the nearly 40 million children and adolescents in the country, considering in particular those with some form of disability.

Ensure support so that all adolescents can enter and complete high school.

Promote mechanisms of participation for adolescents within the family, at school and in the community.

Ensure that adolescents have access to information and services on sexual and reproductive health, in order to reduce early pregnancies.

Promote the approval of a federal law on juvenile justice, and its effective implementation.

Protect children and adolescents from violence in the family, at school, and in the community.

Promote the submission of a draft general law on the rights of children and adolescents, which promotes, protects, and guarantees their rights.
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