First Lady Fazna Ahmed on Monday called for the active involvement of children in shaping policies that affect their well-being.

Speaking at the Regional Consultation of Child Rights Institutions of South Asia being held at Bandos Maldives, she urged all relevant stakeholders to consult children on their needs and aspirations at every stage of policymaking. She commended the Regional Consultation for including a dedicated session with children and youth, stating that their voices must be heard and valued.

Highlighting the administration’s commitment to promoting and safeguarding children’s rights, the first lady said that the Maldives ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1991, and since then the country has made significant progress in establishing a robust legislative framework for child rights at the national level. However, she acknowledged that further efforts are necessary to strengthen these achievements.

In her speech, the first lady also noted the significance of schools, parents, and guardians in educating children about their rights, enabling them to exercise those rights, and assisting them in seeking help if their rights are infringed. She further acknowledged the vital role civil society organisations (CSOs) can play in fostering understanding between policymakers and communities and in promoting awareness of children’s rights. Describing children as agents of change for the future, she stated that the decisions taken today regarding their well-being will determine the trajectory of development in the years to come.

The two-day regional consultation brought together child rights institutions from seven South Asian countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The event is aimed at assessing the current state of children’s rights, exchange experiences, and enhance the expertise of organisations within the region.