Myanmar: Protecting children by building strong communities
In Myanmar as the new government begins to ever-so-slightly open up and instigate dialogue with civil society, one township is making a bold move to replicate Save the Children’s community-based model of child protection.
Meikhtila Township in Mandalay region is one of the target areas of Save the Children’s Cross Border Programme – a flagship anti-trafficking project in South-East Asia.
The project has helped build the capacity of township child rights committees – which are mandated under Myanmar child law – in child protection. As a result of this – and thanks to the activities and engagement of local child protection groups and children’s groups – township authorities are now more aware of their roles and responsibilities as ‘protectors of children’.
The township child rights committees also acknowledge Save the Children’s community-based and participatory approach to promoting children’s protection.
Now, in Meikhtila, the Township has decided to replicate Save the Children’s community-based approach for the entire area, which includes over 200 communities and villages.
The Township Child Rights Committee has requested Save the Children’s assistance to form and build the capacity of new child protection groups. So far, we have facilitated a three-day capacity-building programme for 72 new child protection groups. We plan to run more training for new child protection groups in other communities in the near future.
The Meikhtila Township authorities have also issued ID cards for members of child protection groups. The ID cards recognise the work of community groups in child protection and request other authorities to assist CPG members in their work.
“The ID cards give us more clout with government authorities,” one member of a child protection group commented. “We feel empowered and emboldened to do more for the protection of children in our communities.”
More joined up
The ID cards will also help groups to coordinate with other authorities – such as health and education – that may otherwise not fully understand the role of community protection groups.
“Forming child protection groups in other villages is a great opportunity for us to work with adjacent communities,” the child protection group member continued. “We can devise strategies and come up with common action plans. We can also help the new groups as capacity builders. Most of all, this is really great news for all the children of our township.”