It is a fine spring day in 1986, a group of young university students are discussing their future, sitting on a sprawling garden of the Tribhuvan University compound. The students having a varied academic background, but one thing in common – all of them are student activists. As educated and aware citizens, they have shown their dedication to human rights, development and social service of the country by being part of the human rights and pro-democracy movements in the eighties. Now in the threshold of their new life out of the university, they want to do something really worthwhile and important for their people, society and the nation. The discussion focuses on one young man who relates his experience about an international seminar he had an opportunity to join. The seminar taking place in Bangkok, Thailand dealt with the issue of child labour and was organised by a recently established regional level organisation called Child Workers in Asia (CWA). The young man talks excitedly of his experience, how the issues raised during the seminar touched him and how it made him realise the gravity of the problem of child labour in his own country. It was strange that child labour is not the ‘hot’ issue at that point of time. Leave child labour, even child rights is almost an unheard term, even though human rights and women rights, even trade union movements are getting momentum. It is appalling how everybody is oblivious to the serious problems and threats faced by the children such as high rate of child mortality, abuse and exploitation of children, the involvement of children in the exploitative and health-hazardous labour field, the existence of bonded child labour, trafficking of young girls, etc. The students decide there and then. They will raise the issue of child labour and child rights for the social emancipation of children from all form of exploitation and for the integration of child’s rights into the broader social movement for freedom, peace and equality. For development. For a better life of a new generation. They decided to start a concerned group to help protect children living and working in the most difficult circumstances.
|Mr. Gauri Pradhan
|Mr. Madhav Pradhan
|Ms. Sumitra Joshi
|Ms. Sumnima Tuladhar
|Mr. Subodh Shrestha
|Mr. Tanka Limbu
|Prof. Dr. Govind Subedi
|Ms. Vasha Shrestha
To hold the torch to forward the child’s rights movement, however, there was a complete dearth of appropriate philosophy and vision. Children, the neglected majority, did not have much standing on the adult dominated society. The welfare and service for the children were merely viewed as a charity and had conservative approaches. The students wanted to change that perception owing to their knowledge of the international declarations and convention on the rights of the child which recognised the Child as an integral component of the society with their inherent rights to survival, well being, protection and freedom. Children are to be nurtured with the best the mankind has to offer and need special treatment because of their vulnerable disposition. The conservative approach at dealing with the children’s welfare was unproductive and harmful. They wanted a progressive approach.
So the initiators discussed, debated and hold research studies on the status and problems of children. After a year-long deliberation, they developed the basic vision, philosophy, strategies and plans of action to their new initiative to help protect children from risk and to build up a social movement dedicated to children’s rights and against all forms of servitude of children. Formally established as an organisation on January 1, 1987, they named it “Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center (CWIN)”. CWIN became the first child rights organisation in Nepal.
Even though formally established in 1987, CWIN was not officially registered for a couple of years for multiple reasons. First, the political climate was not favourable at the time of CWIN’s establishment. The social service scenario, largely viewed as the charity service, was monopolised. Every organisation and institution was under the umbrella of the then SSNCC. CWIN, with its founder members with student background and its fiercely independent policy and vision at the social service for children, was not the best organisation to earn the goodwill of the SSNCC, the tool of the anarchist and totalitarian one-party government system of Panchayat. Then the much-despised political order gave way to the people’s movement for the restoration of democracy in 1991 and the subsequent formation of the first democratic government in the country. Soon the SSNCC also had a new set up and CWIN was officially registered under both SWC and Chief District Office (CDO) in 1991 as child’s rights activist and advocate organisation.