Child Participation - Eurochild’s achievements in 2020
2020 marked a strengthening of our commitment to ensuring meaningful child participation across Europe. Recognizing the necessity to listen to children, Eurochild adapted its online spaces to reach more children and supported EU institutions to practice child participation. More than 200 children helped us understand the state of child participation in 10 countries. With our allies, including our outstanding Eurochild Children’s Council, we reached out to more than 10,000 children who shared their views and priorities for the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee.
Enabling children’s participation in a challenging year
Eurochild is a proud champion of child participation having worked for a number of years to ensure children’s voices and views are at the heart of what we do. We support national NGOs as well as European institutions to engage with and empower children, including those in vulnerable situations, ensuring they are consulted on a range of decision making processes. Through our Eurochild Children’s Council, National Eurochild Fora and beyond, we kept a pulse on children’s situation in a challenging year and became better advocates for children having heard from them directly.
In 2020 we saw increasing recognition of child participation at the European political level and whilst much work remains to be done, we are pleased to see important steps being taken towards embedding meaningful child participation in all levels of public decision making.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected children’s ability to access opportunities to get involved. Unequal access to internet and computers as well as difficult home situations challenged many children’s ability to participate. For others, the shift to online engagement provided an opportunity to be more active as physical presence was no longer necessary. Practitioners working directly with children were forced to quickly find new ways of facilitating online participation.
During these challenging times, we actively sought out the experiences of both adults and children to understand their changing needs and realities. We created online spaces where children can feel comfortable and freely express themselves during a time where many young people are feeling isolated and under pressure. By being flexible and adaptable to changing realities, not only were many of our participatory activities able to continue in 2020, but we were also able to set a new standard for child participation at European level.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we enabled several consultations with children that informed European policies and strengthened children’s engagement in key EU fora.
- We reached out to more than 10,000 children in collaboration with four other child rights organisations. Their views helped shape the new EU Strategy on Children’s Rights and the Child Guarantee initiative. Read the findings collated in the Our Europe; Our Rights; Our Future report to learn more.
- Child friendly language and “nothing about us, without us” were echoed at the European Commission’s EU Forum on the Rights of the Child which gathers experts and decision-makers in the child rights arena. For the first time ever, over 60 children participated at this online event. We were delighted to support their involvement which ranged from speaking at panel debates with European Commissioners and hosting a child-led workshop on child friendly justice.
- The Eurochild Children’s Council (a group of 12 young advocates selected through Eurochild membership) continued its engagement despite the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. They led workshops and contributed to child friendly reports and questionnaires to help policy makers understand and reach children effectively.
- We supported our members in 10 European countries to consult 200 children to inform a European Commission study researching existing child participation in political and democratic life.
“Nothing that is decided for children should be decided without children. It’s time to normalize child participation.” – Una, Eurochild Children’s Council member
Our extensive and direct engagement of children is slowly but steadily improving the understanding of the value of child participation among decision-makers. In a year like no other, we have set a high bar for involvement of children and young people in implementation of EU initiatives such as the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child and the Child Guarantee. We hope this will lead to increased investment in children and their rights at the national and local level.