UNICEF 1st South Asia Religious Leaders’ Platform for Children

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiparticipated and shared the exciting work of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance India at the UNICEF SOUTH ASIA at their first South Asia Religious Leaders’ Platform for Children in Kathmandu.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji shared, “When 83.6% of our world identifies as belonging to a faith, and in many South Asian countries the role of faith is far greater, with 90-99% subscribing to a faith, faith leaders have a huge role in solving the challenges that face our world. Hence, when interfaith alliances and dialogues occur they must be to protect our must vulnerable communities, our women, children, indigenous and tribal populations. Thus, it is a great Intiative by Unicef to bring interfaith leaders together in Nepal for this two day workshop to deliberate on and commit to working towards protecting and advocating for child rights. Our children are our future and faith leaders today committed towards working towards this end.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said, “We saw in all the sectors in which we were already working for years — education, child welfare, women’s upliftment, health care — that water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) played a huge, foundational, inextricable role in the success of these programs. Without adequate WASH, no other humanitarian/development initiative in almost any field can be successful. This is why we embarked on a new focus of WASH and uniting the leaders of the major faiths to come together for the health of the children and therefore the country and the world. It’s been a great honor and joy to partner with UNICEF in this initiative. Their technical support has been instrumental in providing us the materials, education and opportunity to take this crucial initiative to the grand level.”

“Religious communities and UNICEF have a long history of shared values and goals of advancing children’s rights and enhancing their well-being. They continue to be our indispensable partner especially in our focus on reaching the poorest, most vulnerable and hardest to reach children and families. If we can fully tap the enormous potential of our partnerships by building on each other’s strengths, we can achieve tremendous results for children,” said Jean Gough, regional director of UNICEF South Asia, during her opening speech.

“We, at UNICEF, will now proactively nurture and expand this network of religious communities. We will also ensure that the discussion carries beyond the meeting room and find ways to translate our commitment to child rights into results, for every child in South Asia,” said Philippe Cori, deputy regional director of UNICEF South Asia, in his concluding remarks, as he closed the two-day South Asia regional conference in Kathmandu.

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