Participation empowers children in their diverse situations to make decisions about the primary issues that affect their lives (growing, learning, loving) and the lives of others and the environment. It is essential for children and young people to develop their own capacities and skills to participate fully in their communities and society.
Participation is the building block of democracy
Globally, it is the means to create active citizens and thriving civil societies (the foundations for dynamic communities and economies), hold governments to account, and where necessary challenge corruption and undemocratic practices.
Participation delivers better outcomes
If children are listened to, then the services designed to meet their needs will be more effective (and thus more efficient).
Evidence about the beneficial outcomes and impact of children’s participation was recently generated by a global initiative, which piloted a framework and toolkit for monitoring and evaluating children’s participation. The results demonstrated that children and young people consistently benefit personally from active participation, developing: greater awareness of their rights; more self-confidence, heightened self esteem; leadership skills; and improved confidence to negotiate with adults.
Outcomes for parents include greater sensitivity to and understanding of children’s rights. Staff have more positive attitudes towards children. The pilot also noted significant external outcomes, even over a short period, that included: reduced incidence of child marriage; increased municipal commitment to engagement with children; and political commitment of decision makers to institutional participation of children. The project identified that children want more opportunities for participation at all levels in their communities and have a great deal to offer in terms of transforming society.
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