Child rights practitioners gather in an exclusive INGO Participation Forum

November 2013

This Wednesday 27 November, around 30 child rights practitioners met at the Institute of Education, London, to listen to a panel discussion between Professor Priscilla Anderson, Dr. Vicky Johnson and Gerison Lansdown, three leading children’s rights experts who unpacked the concept of participation and helped the Forum to reach a shared understanding and definition.

Gerison Lansdown

International children’s rights expert Gerison Lansdown, during her talk at the Participation Forum.


After pointing out that participation is central to any process, Dr Johnson, Senior Research Fellow of the Education Research Centre of University of Brighton, highlighted the relevance of participation for children, who must have the opportunity to voice their perspective of their experience and identity. She also explored the need to build children’s confidence as it will enable them to make decisions.

Lansdown, International Child Rights Advocate and Chair of Child to Child, gave a more philosophical talk, on the meaning of participation as a philosophy, a value – instead of an activity. Similar to Dr Johnson, she stressed that participation is not a privilege but an entitlement, and this is true for both adults and children. She identified the wider picture of participation, which represents being heard, influencing matters, and initiating discussion on issues of concern.

As for Anderson, Professor of Childhood Studies at the Institute of Education, she said the structure of global markets is a barrier to realising children’s participation. As such, she suggested social change is the key component to securing children’s valued place in society and ensuring their voice is heard.

A new phase for the Forum for INGO Practitioners in Children Participation

Yesterday was the seventh time the child rights practitioners shared best practices in the INGO Children’s Participation Forum. The Forum members first met in March 2012, and have met on a quarterly basis since then. Although settling on a common definition and understanding of children participation was not an easy task, they have agreed that this Forum aims at improving the quality of participation practice and enhancing outcomes for children.