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Summary Report: UNICEF Consultation with Civil Society Organisations

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By Sumithra V. Ananthan

UNICEF

On Aug 12, 2015, UNICEF conducted a consultation with 30 civil society organisations (CSOs) as part of the development of the Country Programme Action Plan 2016-2020. The objectives of the consultation were to:

  • Continue to build on the partnerships with UNICEF and bring in new perspectives
  • Develop a picture of the landscape so that UNICEF is aware of significant issues faced  by children in Malaysia
  • Uncover potential areas for UNICEF and CSOs to collaborate in the new country programme

Participants in the 5 thematic areas collaboratively mapped out their ecosystems, including key need areas and affected populations, and identified internal and external challenges faced by their organisations.

Participant’s answers to the following key questions were recorded:

1) What are the key needs in this area?

2) What are emerging issues or gap areas?

3) What programmes or interventions are currently held?

4) What are the promising and innovative approaches that could be tested or implemented?

5) What barriers are preventing us from fully addressing the challenges in this area? Where might UNICEF play a role and contribute in partnership with civil society?

6) What are some of the hopes or goals that all organisations share in common for these thematic areas?

 

The thematic areas discussed are as follows:

1)Teen Pregnancy and Child Marriages

Teen pregnancy is widespread in northern Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. It effects both male and female, amongst all classes of society including Malaysians and non-Malaysians. The children are affected by the issue and so are the parents, communities, and caregivers.

Promising and innovative approaches to explore:

 -Preventive education, including for families

-Legal amendments (Syariah law, contraceptives)

-Trainings of counsellors, teachers, and specialised social workers

-Peer to peer positive approach

-Partnership with government and authorities

-Using social media to create a common platform for people doing similar work

-Counselling for victims and offenders

-Programmes to remove stigma (rejection, discrimination by health personnel)

-Make research reports public and updated data from government hospitals and NGOs

-Increased qualified counsellors in schools, hospitals and welfare

-Educate religious authorities

 

What are the goals and hopes organisations share in this thematic area?

 -Remove stigma and discrimination faced in adolescent/teen pregnancy

-Rejection by parents & family

-Prison and detention under Syariah law

-Expulsion from school

-Discrimination in hospitals, clinics, and by health professionals

-Zero maternal deaths from teenage pregnancy

-Zero child marriages (18 & below)

-Effective & working child help line

-All children are given appropriate information, knowledge, and support on this topic

-Build and strengthen family bonds and support them through open and responsible  communication

 

2) Malnutrition and Obesity

Malnutrition and obesity frequently affects Indians and Malays in both rural and urban areas, particularly primary-aged children. Malnutrition is prevalent amongst the Orang Asli communities in remote areas. It is a complex issue that is not only health related but also a social economic status. In the minds of many, obesity is also linked to being healthy or prosperous in Asia.

Promising and innovative approaches to explore:

-KL Car Free Morning can be expanded in other areas

-Weekly physical activity day in the park in housing areas. Extend it to children and parents

-Healthy cooking competition among children (done by NSM) to be expanded

-Restaurants to reduce size of food portions.

Malnutrition/Undernutrition:

-Education about food preparation to empower women

-Use Philippine’s example in using local resource food available

-Self-sufficient farming in areas where there is malnutrition

 

What are the goals and hopes organisations share in this thematic area?

-Educational and awareness programmes

-Sustainable interventions based on best practices

-Partnership projects in research and development

-Networking and sharing of information and innovative solutions

 

3) Violence Against Children

Children across the country are affected by violence. This is an urgent issue for children in crisis such as victims of trafficking, refugees, stateless children, children exploited through prostitution and child labour, neglected and abandoned children, children who drop out from schools or who are substance addicts and children in conflict with the law.

Promising and innovative approaches to explore:

-Expanding NGO social work and case management at the national level

-Establishing case work teams in high risk area

-Strengthening the child hotline services

-Sensitizing government agencies at different levels

-Speaking with a collective voice to raise awareness

-Run campaigns to improve public awareness and education on violence against children

-CSR from corporations to fund relevant NGOs

-Engage universities to collect data as part of student projects

-New technology for reporting data collection

-New technology to gather and monitor information

 

What are the goals and hopes organisations share in this thematic area?

-Sharing and training among NGOs around specific expertise

-Sensitizing government agencies at different levels on child issues

-Establishing case work teams in high risk locations

-Speaking with a collective voice on child issues to raise public awareness

-Strengthening the child hotline service

-Developing a talent pool within social organisations

-Stronger participation from all parties including public to combat violence against children

-Uniform advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, networking and continuous mentorship to support NGOs

-All children are given protection (introduce registered foster care)

-All children to have their basic rights met

-Ministers and officers should not change too frequently because advocacy efforts go to  waste when they leave.

 

4) Adolescent Engagement

School dropouts are a key issue in both urban and rural areas. Rural adolescents who migrate to urban areas are particularly at risk. Peer pressure and lost identity are key drivers for youth becoming involved in social ills. Adolescents are in an unstable environment and in a critical age of development.

 

Promising and innovative approaches to explore:

-Youth programmes that focus more on community building amongst youth so they can give each other support to move forward with their intended goals

-Domestic exchange programmes that give exposure to different cultural challenges and pressures

-Programme integration between different training and capacity building organisations in the youth development sector

 

What are the goals and hopes organisations share in this thematic area?

-A higher level of programme integration into the current curriculum in schools; not being treated as a secondary priority

-For the public to recognise the diversity of human skills, needs, and tendencies amongst youth

-Stronger collaboration within the ecosystem to build on each others’ expertise and resources

-Every player in the ecosystem to have a solid and aligned understanding of the current state in youth development

 

  • Basic Education for Marginalized and Vulnerable Children

There is a need for a process and procedure of engagement between civil societies and government that is effective and efficient.

 

Promising and innovative approaches to explore:

-Providing free online content

-Bringing schools to communities

-Developing student community for peer to peer coaching

-MAC (Mobile Activity Centres)

 

What are the goals and hopes organisations share in this thematic area?

-Inclusivity in education

-Improving the quality of teaching

-No one is left behind in development

-We hope the government will build its capacity to assist and lead in achieving our goals

 

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This report does not represent the opinions of UNICEF or its staff.

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