Since 1975, Bangalore-based The Concerned for Working Children (CWC) has worked on various issues related to children's rights including child labour and education, with a special emphasis on children's right to self–determination. The organization's efforts have been recognized internationally as well—it has been nominated thrice for the Nobel Peace Prize.
CWC was also one of the beneficiary NGOs for our episode on the criminalization of politics. With donations facilitated by the show, the NGO has assisted thousands of children and gram panchayats in Karnataka to effectively respond to the needs raised by children at the gram sabhas. An astounding total of 12,224 women and 5,692 children across 50 gram sabhas have raised their voice collectively against 996 issues that concern them.
A girl reads out a list of the issues concerning the children in her panchayat.
Here are some of the key initiatives taken by the NGO and their outcomes:
1. 650 children (working children, migrant workers' children, disabled children and school-going children) were facilitated to identify their problems and approach relevant persons (government, panchayat leader, school authorities) to seek solutions for the same.
2. As a result of this, the children made their voice heard during the 2014 Lok Sabha Assembly Election when they gave a memorandum with 54 demands to local candidates. The memo highlighted issues such as children's safety and child marriage.
3. Children were also helped to identify 'Makkala Mitras' or 'Children's Friends' to redress acts of physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
4. 35 children's groups and 75 women's groups participated in a capacity building workshop where they were given information on handling their own issues, on supporting structures that exist for their protection and on what the existing laws protecting children and women are.
Women tying a red ribbon to an electric pole outside their gram panchayat's office as a symbol of the issues to be resolved.
5. Four children (aged 14–18) participated in international programmes in Norway and Switzerland where they shared their views and experiences on the right of listening to children and on children as agents of social change.
6. A survey was carried out in 70 marginalized areas and 67 male and 101 female working children were identified. These children were then made part of the children's sabhas and support system to strengthen their voice and make their concerns visible.
7. Discussions were held with district-level officials across different government departments to discuss the education system, skill-building for children, fundamental facilities for migrant workers and the importance of issues related to children's gram sabhas and panchayats. A capacity-building workshop for 138 panchayat officers and interested local representatives was also conducted where participants were taught how to conduct a children's gram sabha and panchayat.
8. 99 danger zones for children were identified across 18 panchayats. Protection walls were built around these and hoardings were installed as well. CWC's work has shown how children's abilities to access their rights and to hold their respective governments accountable can be significantly enhanced through collaboration between NGOs, governments, individuals and corporate donors.
CWC's work has shown how children's abilities to access their rights and to hold their respective governments accountable can be significantly enhanced through collaboration between NGOs, governments, individuals and corporate donors.