Children’s active participation on the development agenda

Published: 06 December 2010


Participation is the key word. Children’s participation to society is the challenge. This is the assumption of Wounter Vandenhole, Professor at University of Antwerp, in Belgium, who set the context of children’s rights in development policies during European Development Days 2010 in Bruxelles. The Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 set the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of children. But now it’s time to give them the power. Because, as Vandenhole explained, they are not just the future, but the present as well.

Ma-Hawa Ngaima testifies the importance of participation for new generations. She is the Speaker of Liberian Children’s Parliament and she told the EDD’s auditorium what the Parliament is doing to help her troublesome Country. Of course, she spoke about the threats for children living in Liberia. Nevertheless she keeps hope alive and gives some recommendations to adults(listen here the full interview).

“We should give the power to children so that they can defend themselves” is the warning of Shirin Aumeeruddy-Cziffra, Ombudperson for children and former Minister for Women’s rights and Family Affair in Mauritius. She explained that there in Mauritius they are using drawnings, comic strips, movies and cartoons to inform young people about their rights. Simple and straightforward languages to reach the aims.

“Investing on children’s care is more productive than investing on traditional business models” said Hilde Johnson, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF, and she is referring to a case study. Be an active part of society is a basic right for human beings and International community finally recognized children’s juridical personality. By giving the children the right of participating we would move a huge step forward. Participation is a right but also citizens’ responsibility. As Italian songwriter Giorgio Gaber would sing, the real freedom comes with participation.