Adequate social protection and care is crucial for ensuring that children become healthy, educated adult members of society, a conference in Sarajevo was told. The “Social Welfare for Children – Exchange of Good Practices” conference is taking place 16-18 October, organized by UNICEF in Bosnia in cooperation with national and entity governments.
The conference is attended by decision-makers, influencers and experts working in the field of social protection from Bosnia, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, Georgia and Moldova.
“Children who grow up in poverty are more often encountered with social exclusion”
“Social protection plays a key role in strengthening the resilience of children, families and communities, it also achieves greater equity and supports the human and economic development of the state. The relevant institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina have made significant progress in reforming the current social protection system to better manage the coverage of financial support and social services for the most vulnerable children and families. UNICEF remains committed to supporting them in these efforts,” said Geeta Narayan, UNICEF Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Melvin Asin, Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Bosnia, stressed the importance of social protection for the EU agenda: “Unfortunately, children who grow up in poverty are more often encountered with social exclusion, lack access to quality services, and lack the ability to achieve the necessary skills and knowledge for the future. In such circumstances, most of these children will not be able to develop their full potential, and from our perspective – this is absolutely unacceptable for a number of reasons.”
Associate Regional Director in the UNICEF Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, Hanaa Singer, said that every society loves its children, but that it is very important that everyday life for children has a loving, caring and supportive environment in which a child can achieve his/her full potential: “It is very important that every day you get equal opportunities to learn, be healthy, grow and develop. No child should grow up in poverty because his mother has lost a job or his father cannot be employed because of discrimination.”
“No child should grow up in poverty because his mother has lost a job or his father cannot be employed because of discrimination”
During the first day of the conference, experts from Maastricht University, Oxford Policy Management, UNICEF’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia, World Bank and International Policy Center Brazil presented a number of arguments about the importance of social protection for children, identifying fiscal space for investing in children, linking cash and social services and coverage and adequacy of cash benefits in the Region.
Bosnian Minister of Civil Affairs Adil Osmanović emphasized at the opening of the Conference that Bosnia ratified the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child: “Children are the most vulnerable but at the same time the most promising group of people. This Conference is in favor of our efforts to continuously work on improving the system of social protection and inclusion, including through the exchange of experiences with the countries of the region, especially in light of the ongoing process of joining the European Union, leading to the strategic goals set out in the Europe 2020 Strategy. The strategy is aimed at reducing the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion within the European Union, as well as the European Union recommendation on investing in children.”
Republika Srpska entity Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dragan Bogdanić, said that one of the basic goals is to equalize the conditions to meet the developmental needs of children and to create a favorable environment for each child to gain the same opportunity through the system of health, education and social protection.
The Federation entity Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Vesko Drljača, said that the Conference is of great importance for both Bosnia and the region as a whole.
The conference will result in a Call for Action and further confirm the commitment of the countries in the region to improve the social protection system in which children take an important place. Participants of the conference will exchange the lessons learned in this area, point out innovative approaches and discuss advocacy of social protection that will help families to cope with the difficulties of a difficult material situation.