The US Embassy was represented by Ann Flynn, Human Rights Officer of the United States Embassy. She started her presentation by welcoming everyone to the conference and congratulating the Centre for Economic and Leadership Development for organizing the programme.
She noted that nothing is more important to the future of a nation than how it treats its Children, its most vulnerable citizen.
Speaking on how the rights of Children are protected in the US, she said that even though there is no national law on child protection, there is a strong tradition to protect children, which is demonstrated by each member state. The US constitution empowers state Government to make laws on child protection.
She added that since Children rely on adult for food, clothing, shelter and nurturing, for growth, parents therefore have the primary responsibility to provide these needs but that there are law in place to help them to provide the needs. The law provides for family leave for pregnant mothers. This protects the mothers so that they can actually return to their work after delivery without loss of seniority. More companies are also granting paternity leave, so a new father can stay at home to care for anew mother and baby, she noted.
The Human Rights Officer of the United State also stated that for poor families, the Government provides school lunch programs from elementary school through high school. She said this was important because studies shows that by feeding children, they come to school more steadily, making truancy or dropping- out less of a problem.
On health issues, Ann Flynn said that the state department of Health offers doctors visit and immunizations for childhood diseases.
Speaking on Education, the human rights expert said that in America, laws on Education are made by the state Governments. She also added that all school laws are made at local level subject to state laws. Citing the state of California as an example , she said that an elected school board made up of regular citizens; they makes the decision on how to run the schools, ‘’ This school board hires a professional staff of educators, follows the appropriate laws, decides on what textbooks to buy, makes hiring criteria for teachers, and what subjects to be taught. These are not educators, but just people like you and me, who live in the local district. They are not paid, they are not civil servants, but are just citizens who are committed to educating the next generation. If they do something that is not according to the will of the people, they will be voted out of office at the next election.’’
On child labour, she said that there is a fair labour standard Act which protects children by establishing 16 as the minimum age to work.
Quoting the US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton, she said ‘’ human rights are universal, but they begin locally, in towns, in villages and especially in homes’’
In her concluding remark she noted that we may sign international agreements, pass laws at state and federal, state and local level but for a child what matters is how he or she is treated in their homes, villages or the city that matters most.