Children have right to be heard in decisions affecting them: Princess of Monaco

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) Calling on world leaders to collectively fight for the rights of children, Princess Charlene of Monaco on Saturday said children have the right to participate in decisions affecting them.

“We should bear in mind that children have a right to be heard and a right to participate in decisions that affect them. We should invest in children, allow them to speak and equip then with the knowledge and understanding of their rights,” said Charlene addressing the “Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit” here.

The Princess is among a host of global leaders and Nobel Laureates participating in the two-day summit at Rashtrapati Bhavan. Organised by Nobel laureate and child rights activists Kailash Satyarthi, the summit aims towards building a strong moral platform for protecting children from violence, and ensuring a world where children are free to be just children.

“I hope that the summit will capture the world’s imagination and determination in providing the children what they deserve. Ensuring children’s rights require more leadership and action,” she said.

“It requires giving voice to the unheard. We owe our children – the most vulnerable citizen of any society – a life free from violence and pain. We owe our children a bright future, a future where they are empowered to shape,” said the Princes.

“There is need for the world leaders to come together, the foundations and organisations fighting for children rights must come together. Tomorrow is a promise, we have to act today, act now,” she said.

The former Olympic swimmer also pointed to the menace of drowning.

“Drowning is one of the major causes of accidental deaths across the globe including India,” she said and elaborated on the work carried out by the Princess Charlene Foundation which seeks to raise public awareness about the dangers of water and teach children both water safety techniques and how to swim.

“My foundation reached out to over 100,000 people across 27 countries teaching children to swim, safety techniques and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation),” said the Princess, who had represented South Africa at the Sydney Olympic Games.

The Princess was also appointed Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics, the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.