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Plan International announces partnership with SAARCLAW

Collaboration will drive advocacy and policy efforts focused on children’s’ rights, with an emphasis on girls, gender equality and child protection

KATHMANDU (20 June) – In a steadfast effort to advance children’s rights and equality for girls in South Asia, global child rights organization Plan International announces a new partnership with the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in Law (SAARCLAW).

The partnership – made official through a signing ceremony on 20 June 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal – will strengthen efforts between the legal community in South Asia and civil society organizations to accelerate the harmonization and reform of the regional instruments and national laws, policies and regulatory frameworks that guide the promotion, protection and realization of children’s rights.

Focus on children's rights and gender equality

With a particular emphasis on girls and women equity and equality, the partnership will support advocacy at all levels on the advancement of legal systems that prevent and eliminate harmful practices that impact the lives of millions of children in South Asia, including child early and forced marriage.

We believe in the value of powerful partnership to tackle the root causes of poverty and discrimination

“We believe in the value of powerful partnership to tackle the root causes of poverty and discrimination that deny millions of children their human rights. By working with SAARCLAW, we are jointly accelerating efforts to ensure legal and policy changes to guarantee children in South Asia a life driven by equality, justice and dignity,” says Sven Coppens, Country Director for Plan International in Nepal.

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"Women and children’s rights are human rights. This is stated clearly in the Constitutions of South Asian Countries as fundamental rights and within international instruments such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was ratified by all SAARC Countries," says Prof. Purna Man Shakya, Vice President SAARCLAW.

The partnership holds governments accountable to drive impact that guarantees children their rights

“The Chief Justices of the SAARC Region have also emphasized their commitments to driving human rights. The collaboration with Plan International will strengthen the linkages between international organizations, civil society and the legal community as we work towards advancing the rights of women and children through laws and policies," says Shakya.

Ending child marriage in South Asia

South Asia has the highest incidence of child marriage in the world, with approximately 1 in 2 girls married before their 18th birthday. While the partnership between Plan International and SAARCLAW will address child rights in all its forms, the initial priority will focus on national laws regulating child marriage related aspects. 

Despite the fact that marriage under 18 is prohibited by law in almost all South Asian countries, there are many legal challenges that exist – including weak enforcement and inconsistencies in the law – that continues to rob millions of girls around the world of their potential, development and childhood.

Despite the fact that marriage under 18 is prohibited in almost all South Asian countries, many legal challenges exist – including weak enforcement and inconsistencies in the law 

“Governments have made their commitments to children and young people, yet large portions of the population continue to face discrimination, injustice and abuse. The partnership with SAARCLAW will hold governments accountable to their policies and laws, and international human rights standards, in order to drive long-term impact that guarantees children their rights and ability to reach their full potential,” says Coppens.

Learn more about Plan International's work in Asia