As Chair of the Parliamentarians’ Group for Children, I, along with Swaniti Initiative, organized a UNICEF Roundtable Conference on “Covid-19 and Children” on July 2, 2021. Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF Representative to India, spoke on the need to pay special attention to children during the pandemic in her introductory remarks.
UNICEF India Deputy Representative Programmes, Mr. Yasumasa Kimura, briefed the conference on the magnitude of the pandemic’s impact on children. Loss of parental support and worsening of nutritional and educational levels were rampant. He was followed by Education Specialist Mr. Ramachandra Rao Begur who highlighted the digital divide in education and resultant learning outcome deficiencies that unfolded in the pandemic.
The major concerns raised by the Parliamentarians during the discussions were mental support for orphans, learning loss due to the pandemic and possible third wave preparations for children.
Policy solutions were put forth to the Parliamentarians by the UNICEF officials. These covered the domains of healthcare, nutrition, education, WASH, child protection and cash transfer programmes.
The conference concluded on the consensus that Covid is a prolonged phenomenon and that responses to the pandemic must take its long duration into account.
The Parliamentarians’ Group for Children is a non-partisan self-governed collective of Members of Parliament formed with the aim to engage, advocate, deliberate, advance and take actions towards advancing the well-being and rights of children.