As part of the Ministry of Health and Government of Belize-UNICEF Programme of Cooperation and in collaboration with TumulK’in, the National Garifuna Council, Congress of Maya Teachers, Maya Youth Coalition, Maya Leaders Alliance and Battle of the Drums Secretariat, a two day symposium focusing on indigenous children and adolescent rights was held on7-8 June 2012 in Punta Gorda Town.
The symposium entitled, ‘Safeguarding the Rights of Indigenous Children and Adolescents’ commenced with an opening ceremony by Mayor Antony Fuentes at 9:00 a.m. in Punta Gorda Town in the Toledo District. The Keynote Address was presented by Dr. Peter Allen, Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health. The main objectives of the Symposium were to draft an agenda for indigenous children and adolescents; to review the challenges faced by indigenous children and adolescents and their families; and also to explore promising practices in programming for indigenous children and adolescents in Belize.
The first day focused on the achievement of social well-being for Indigenous Children and Adolescents. This includes the articulation of their rights within the National Plan of Action for Children and Adolescents in the context of the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) focusing on equity and quality in health, nutrition across the life cycle; early childhood development; the right to identity; participation and the promotion of indigenous cultures. A map of all the current indigenous initiatives will be presented as well, that will underscore the gaps that exist in programmes and policies as it relates to indigenous children.
On the second day, priorities for indigenous children and adolescents will be identified. Attorney Antoinette Moore will discuss the CRC in the context of indigenous rights with a view to frame indigenous children’s plan with its follow up actions to safeguard their rights.
The symposium had the participation of NGOs, CSOs and individuals working with children in Southern Belize.