“Let us put action behind our words.”
This was the challenge issued by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) Ayanna Webster-Roy, as she addressed Monday’s public consultation on the National Child Policy at the Scarborough Library, Tobago.
Webster-Roy said: “Too many times in TT we talk and there is no action behind the words. I am challenging us all today, let us put action behind our words from this time forward. We have work to do and I am confident we can do it and I know that Tobago and Trinidad, and the people of TT, will start walking the talk.”
Tobagonians had their turn to voice concerns about the policy, which provides an overall framework for the care, protection and development of children and offers long-term guidance to support suitable legislation, interventions and infrastructure to further ensure their rights. It outlines 60 strategies relating to promoting and ensuring the positive development and well-being and empowerment of all children through the recognition of their importance, prioritisation of their needs, respect and protection of their rights, encouragement of their active participation.
The plan is to implement it through establishing various structures, mechanisms and processes, including a governance structure under the auspices of the Child Affairs Division, Office of the Prime Minister; strengthening legal and policy frameworks across sectors; cross-sectoral planning and integrated implementation facilitated through a Cabinet-appointed cross-sectoral committee; ensuring adequate human and financial resources informed by national implementation plans; research, data collection and monitoring and evaluation complemented by a national children’s registry; ensuring accountability through a Children’s Commissioner; and ensuring continuity and sustainability withstanding political shuffles.
The minister said the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) has rolled out several initiatives aimed at increasing public awareness on preventing child abuse. The education campaign, she said, includes child abuse prevention month initiatives, establishing five assessment centres and the child protection league.
“We could do so much at the Office of the Prime Minister but without all of you, without all the people of TT buying in and giving full support, the work of the Office of the Prime Minister would come to nought.
“I firmly believe that TT is called for something great. I strongly believe that…we the people of this nation, we just have to accept it, believe it and just start doing what we’re meant to do, which is to be a guiding light in the Caribbean through our policies, through our actions.”
Webster-Roy, the Tobago East MP, emphasised “the need for us to see our children as valuable human beings in whom we must sow seeds to safeguard their holistic development and well-being, in order to reap the harvest of stronger families and a stronger country tomorrow.”