They say that it’s difficult to do advocacy work in Myanmar. But, while we may have to take a slightly different and more methodical approach, some of our recent, more modest accomplishments bode well for the year ahead, and for getting ‘voices from the field’ heard in our work influencing autorities and agencies.
When asked to contribute our suggestions/recommendations for the government’s 2011 Anti-Trafficking Action Plan, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to not only use our knowledge of what’s happening on the ground, but to bring in the huge amount of information and recommendations that we had garnered over the past year directly from children and young people, such as those from the Mekong Youth Forum that I blogged on earlier.
Here are a few of the highlights from the 2011 plan emanating from Save the Children recommendations:
- More frequent and effective cooperation between Myanmar-Thai and Myanmar-China authorities and commitments to quicken the pace with which children are being repatriated and reintegrated into their home communities
- Awareness-raising will be extended to cover a number of new regions this year in recognition of the high numbers of children trafficked from those areas
- Acknowledging Save the Children’s excellent work in mobilising community-based child protection groups, more focus on community monitoring was highlighted in the 2011 plan as well as commitments to form additional Anti-Trafficking Task Forces in regions currently without
- New rehabilitation shelters will be constructed as well as the development of standard operating procedures for working with survivors of trafficking; and for working with child survivors of trafficking, new training for authorities.
- Corruption along border regions in particular has frequently been highlighted by children. In this year’s action plan, there is a renewed commitment to work on punishing perpetrators of trafficking and rooting out corruption amongst officials.
The entire child protection team here realises that while these new action items are welcome and good news, policies and action plans in and of themselves will not be able to protect children – only the implementation of them will. What we have accomplished in the short-term, however, is an acknowledgement of thanks from the government for not only pointing out the shortcomings in previous year’s action plans and implementation, but recommending workable solutions, offering our expertise to conduct training and to continue mobilising communities around anti-trafficking initiatives.
It’s not the advocacy end game for us either, but it is a great start to the year!