|Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, congratulates Champion for Children, Faith Marshall-Harris, on her appointment, while UNICEF’S Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Khin-Sandi Lwin, looks on at right. (C. Pitt/BGIS)|
Attorney-at-law and Legal Consultant, Faith Marshall-Harris, has been endorsed as Barbados’ Champion for Children by UNICEF.
And, Minister of Family, Stephen Lashley, has described Mrs. Marshall-Harris as being "well qualified" for the designation.
While addressing a brief ceremony at UN House today, Mr. Lashley said, however, that the protection of children and ensuring their optimal development was the responsibility of all persons.
"The protection of children, and particularly the disadvantaged, can only be adequately addressed with the heightened consciousness of each citizen, backed by the enforcement of the most modern legislation.
"Child Care is everyone’s business. The Child Care Board has a facility for reporting cases of abuse and while the reporting of child abuse and neglect is not now mandatory, the preparatory groundwork has started to have mandatory reporting legislated in the not too distant future," he disclosed.
Mrs. Marshall-Harris has worked in the legal field for over 21 years, but spent the last 10 years operating in the Family Court as a Magistrate advocating for children’s rights.
The Minister expressed the view, therefore, that the Champion for Children designation was an achievement on many levels. "For UNICEF, it is an accomplishment of that organisation’s mission in middle income countries such as Barbados to advocate for the rights of children, particularly the most disadvantaged.
"For Barbados, it denotes yet another achievement by the Government of Barbados as we continue our work catering to the care and protection of our most precious resources, our children," he suggested.
Mr. Lashley said that in today’s society, one could argue that there was a place for a children’s champion at the national level to assist in promoting the optimal development of children, since they make up a vulnerable group. He stated that such an individual should be one who engaged in??advocacy, and sought to protect??children’s rights.
"A children’s champion may be defined as one who does battle for the rights or honour of children; takes extraordinary interest in the adoption, implementation, and success of a cause, policy, programme, or project which will benefit children;
and has a passion for children and is willing to speak out against injustice," he suggested.
The children’s champion will seek to represent or give voice to an individual or group whose concerns and interests are not being heard; prevent children from being harmed and may try to obtain??justice??for those who have already been injured in some way; and?? influence policies as they relate to children; among other things.