Kuala Lumpur (VNA) – The annual Global Child Forum (GCF) took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on May 5, calling on ASEAN businesses to increase commitments on children’s rights.

The forum attracted 250 delegates from the ASEAN region, including Vietnam, and international organisations such as UNICEF, Plan International and the UN Global Compact.

Opening the one-day event, Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf – the GCF patron and founder – said: “Global Child Forum is an independent Royal Foundation with special focus on children’s rights and the business sector. Our vision is a world where children’s rights for future generations are respected and supported by all actors in society, and where the business and financial sector can have a special role to play”.

ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh appreciated the GCF’s attention to Southeast Asian children and believes that the event was a good opportunity for representatives of the countries’ governments, business sectors and social organisations to share experience in protecting and strengthening children’s rights.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Rohani Abdul Karim noted that promoting children’s rights is key to stability, prosperity and sustainability in the region.

At the forum, participants focused on children’s rights as a corporate sustainability agenda. They discussed children in the digital age, safeguarding children’s rights in the travel and tourism sector, and the children’s rights and business atlas as a tool for responsible business.

The GCF also launched a regional benchmark study which analyses the reported practices of 289 companies operating in the ASEAN region. Only 29 percent of the surveyed companies issue a public condemnation of child labour, which is much less than the global average of 62 percent.

About 70 percent of the firms are active at driving programmes to promote children’s rights, well above the global average of 48 percent. However, only 3 percent address children’s issues at board level.

The forum urges businesses in the region to put children’s rights as a top priority in corporate governance in order to bring up the regional benchmark score from 2.1 to 5 (out of 9) within five years.

The GCF was initiated by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden in 2009. It is an independent and multi-stakeholder platform that aims to promote children’s rights together with top leaders from businesses, governments, academia and civil society.

The GCF on Southeast Asia in Kuala Lumpur is the first forum to be hosted in the region and the organisation’s third regional forum.-VNA