Eurochild adopts participation strategy
Eurochild’s general assembly in Brussels has adopted a new strategy for children’s participation, which it says will help to put children’s rights at the heart of Europe. Adrian Voce reports
Eurochild, the network that ‘works for and with children across Europe and is advocating for putting children’s rights at the heart of EU policy-making,’ has adopted a new child participation strategy at a meeting of its general assembly. For the first time, the organisation engaged children and young people in facilitated discussions at its Members’ Day, about the proposed strategy, which was then adopted the following day by the general assembly.
Eurochild says the strategy ‘aims to engage children and young people directly to put children’s rights at the heart of Europe; give them a voice and build a community of child rights advocates’. Eurochild will now develop national and European fora for children and young people to influence decisions that affect their lives, and also support them in helping to organise events.
The strategy sets out nine principles for children’s full and meaningful participation in its decision-making processes:
- Transparent and informative – Children need to be given as much information as possible, so that, should they get involved, they know what they are getting into.
- Voluntary – Children should always have the right not to participate and to opt out.
- Respectful – All participants, adult and children, respect each other and other people’s ideas.
- Relevant – Children have to be involved in decisions that are relevant to them.
- Child friendly – Everything should be designed in a way that allows children to contribute.
- Inclusive – All children are treated equally and are given a chance to participate.
- Supported by training – Training should be offered by adult staff.
- Safe – Children are not exposed to situations that make them vulnerable.
- Accountable – Adults keep their promises, and children can let them know if something is not working.
The Eurochild child participation strategy is going to be piloted via three National European Fora in Malta, Estonia and Bulgaria through which children can get directly involved.
At the General Assembly and Members’ Day, a group of children and young people advised the membership on the provision of child-friendly spaces and making sure that views are gathered from disadvantaged groups.
Eurochild says it believes that children’s participation is crucial for the promotion and protection of their rights and that, just as children’s advocates demand participatory approaches from governments, so civil society must lead the way, by embedding children’s participation into its own working structures.
Read Eurochild’s Child Participation Strategy here