We gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the state’s priorities by looking at how we treat our children. Our government cannot claim to protect the rights of all if we fall short in protecting the rights of young people – especially girl children who are vulnerable to unjust treatment due to age and gender-based discrimination.

Every year, on National Children’s week, we renew our commitment as public servants to ensure that every child is given every possible opportunity to realize their full potential. This year, Children’s Week presents an opportunity for us to celebrate an important milestone in our mission to uphold the rights of children as we welcome the passage of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11596 or the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law. 

In the Bangsamoro, there is an urgent need to address the issue of child marriage with an intersectional approach that accounts for the different ways power and privileges affects the lives of our children. This then allows us to craft programs and policies that effectively complement our peace-building efforts, especially since child marriages in the BARMM are linked to socioeconomic inequalities rooted in a long history of poverty and conflict.

As we celebrate Children’s Week, it is important for us to also take steps that recognzies and celebrates and  the rights of every child. These rights include the right to play and enjoy their youth, the right to be protected from danger, and the right to live in a productive environment. Most of all, children have the right to good governance – one that represents their best interests as it encourages them to actively participate in the affairs of the family and of the state.

It is essential that every child has every opportunity to realize their dreams and aspirations in an environment that affirms their worth and value, and where their basic rights are  guaranteed, protected and upheld. The passage of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Law is a step towards the right direction, as we continue to enact and implement measures protecting the rights of children as we build a just and humane society that protects the rights of all.