Work with us to overcome the barriers to child participation
There is much to be done to mainstream children’s participation to ensure that all children are able to realise their right to be heard.
Implementing this change involves a profound and radical change in the status of children in most societies and the nature of relationships between adults and children. For most children, being listened to and respected and having the opportunity to play a meaningful role in issues which affect them is not an option.
Most societies do not actively promote or support children’s rights to participate. Participation is marginalised in favour of legislation and policy intended to meet governments’ other obligations under the CRC, namely provision of services and protection.
Despite ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), many governments have failed to develop the legal and policy frameworks that would enable meaningful implementation of Article 12. Few governments have made systematic efforts to fully realise and institutionalise mechanisms at different levels for children to actively and meaningfully participate in decisions affecting them in health, education, protection and local and national governance. In most countries, children cannot legally register their own child organisations, and many children continue to experience challenges to accessing information on their rights and national policies and practices affecting them.
Cultural attitudes may mean that children are not recognised as having useful and legitimate contributions.Too often they are seen as adults ‘in the making’ rather than as people in their own right ‘here and now.’ Children may be viewed as the ‘property’ of adults.
Unsurprisingly, these barriers are likely to be exacerbated where certain adults are themselves not fully able to realise their rights (e.g. women, minority groups and those with disabilities).
Children lack economic, social and political power. Even those who go to school are not necessarily educated about their rights or have access to good quality education that would provide them with the information they require to understand their rights.
Consequently, children are not aware that they have the right to participate and do not have the skills or knowledge to exercise it. These challenges may be compounded by discriminatory attitudes towards children from marginalised groups, including children with disabilities, from minority communities and girls.
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