Despite an increase in national income in recent years, Bangladesh has seen a retrogression of basic economic and social rights among its children. More girls than boys are malnourished and children in slums live in great poverty and are less likely to attend school than their urban non-slum and rural counterparts.
Our research suggests that the state is failing to implement policies needed to honor its minimum core obligations to reduce disparities in children's enjoyment of economic, social and culture rights, and to ensure that these rights are realized progressively according to maximum available resources. CESR's fact sheet on Bangladesh provides a graphic overview of selected elements of children's human rights to food, health, education, housing and water, seeking to highlight areas where government efforts to realize these rights may be inadequate. It was prepared in light of Bangladesh's appearance before the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in June 2009
The 51st Session of the Committee on the Rights of the Child
The CRC is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Part of CRC's 51st session (June 12-25, 2009 in Geneva) focused on the consideration of the state reports submitted by Bangladesh. Documentation related to this meeting can be found here. Committee experts asked the Bangladeshi government questions related to children's economic and social rights, such as:
- The relatively low social investment by the government as a percentage of GDP
- Neonatal and child mortality rates
- School attendance
- Urban and rural disparities
- Children living in slums and their access to improved sanitation
In light of its consideration of Bangladesh's reports, and the subsequent discussion, the Committee adopted its concluding observations. These list principal subjects of concern along with suggestions and recommendations to the State party:
- "The Committee regrets that investment in children, especially for health, education and social protection, continues to be too low to ensure the full exercise of all rights by all children and that the budget does not clearly identify investment in children at all levels. The Committee notes with concern the weak monitoring and accountability mechanisms for budgetary expenditure at different levels of the administration."
- "The Committee is concerned that the lack of reliable disaggregated data from the national to the district levels hampers effective follow-up or evaluation of the implementation of the Convention. The Committee is particularly concerned that reliable, disaggregated data in important areas of the Convention are not available such as statistics on child births, health, child abuse, child labour, and children working and/or living in streets. The Committee also notes with concern the lack of coordination and collaboration among government agencies in data collection and the inadequate technical capabilities for data collection, analysis, and reporting."
- "Girls continue to face discrimination and disparities, particularly with regard to healthcare, nutrition and early marriage, as do particular groups of children, including refugee children, children with disabilities, children in slums and rural areas and children of ethnic and religious minorities."
- "The Committee notes with appreciation the State party’s progress made to enhance the right of children to life, survival and development. However, the Committee is concerned that prevention-based policies are lacking and that certain conditions in the State party undermine the enjoyment of this right, including poverty, high neonatal mortality and child malnutrition rates, high drop-out rates from school...."
- "The Committee remains concerned that health improvements have not yet reached the most vulnerable children, that the neonatal mortality rate and child malnutrition rate are still very high and that the number of cases of preventable waterborne and communicable diseases still continues to be high."
- "The Committee is deeply concerned that child poverty and inequality pose serious challenges, as do the rapid urbanization and the increasing number of slums and sub-standard housing, the insufficient allocation of resources and the unclear criteria for selecting beneficiaries of social safety net programmes."
- "The Committee remains concerned about ... the marked disparities in access to education among the regions and the poor quality of education provided in many schools...the extremely low rate of primary school completion, and the very low enrolment in secondary school."