What Children can teach us about democracy
Democracy works best when all voices can be heard. No voice should be left behind. Yet, the voices of children and youth are far too often muted although they make up roughly 1/3 of the world’s population.
Today at ICLD and around the world we celebrate the United Nations Universal Children’s Day, a global event organized by the UN to promote and raise awareness about children’s rights worldwide. This day marks the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention On the Rights of the Child, UNCRC, the most widely ratified human rights treaty.
So why is it important to listen to children’s views and opinions?
Well, first and foremost it is a fundamental right and a general principle of the UNCRC.
Involving children in democratic processes and in decision-making means they can influence some of the things that affect them and offer a different perspective from adults in their respective communities. Across the world we have seen an increase in child- and youth-led movements making a difference in society. These movements demonstrate that when children and young people are given a platform and a trigger for action, they can make a big difference to our societies and be real change agents as mentioned in the 2030 Agenda.
At ICLD we believe that the participation of children and youth in local governments is essential to create more inclusive and sustainable societies. Local governments have many responsibilities that affect the well-being of children such as the provision of education, health care, public spaces, and other social services. This is why for nearly ten years, we have supported municipal partnerships that have worked on the overall theme of “The right to influence for children and youth” inspired by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This has resulted in research on the importance of including children in local decision-making processes to improve their well-being and the barriers that children often experience to be heard.
If we are to build sustainable and democratic societies we must involve children and recognize them as active citizens in their own right. On this day ICLD pays special attention to children from all walks of life and the ”Gretas” and ”Malalas” out there who are tirelessly working to make the world a better place. Thank you!
International Programme Director at ICLD