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Children take centre stage at Eurochild annual gathering

Showcasing excellent practice of child-led participation, children & young people contributed extensively to this year’s General Assembly & Members Day, which, for the first time ever, also included children from outside the Eurochild Children’s Council.

On 17-18 June 2021, Eurochild members participated in the online Annual General Assembly & Members Day 2021. The Eurochild Children’s Council, in cooperation with Eurochild’s child participation team, came prepared to showcase its work and demonstrate child-led sessions at this exciting gathering of the children’s rights community.

The Eurochild Children’s Council is a group of 12 children and young people who work actively with the Eurochild secretariat to create meaningful child participation in Eurochild’s advocacy, events and governance. This year for the first time, children from outside the Eurochild Children’s Council were also invited to join the Members Day. Nine young people from Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Ireland (supported by Eurochild members) participated in several of the learning- and showcasing sessions addressing, among other things, their experiences of how young people and adults have largely been left to themselves to adapt to the new challenging circumstances of the pandemic. The children participated actively and equally in key sessions where they shared their challenges as advocates themselves. Notably, they questioned the discrepancy of different minimum age requirements for voting in national and European elections.

Eurochild has committed to engage children’s views not only in its advocacy but also in its governance. Ahead of the elections for the Management Board of Eurochild, children and young people formulated critical questions for the candidates of the Management Board to reflect on and respond to. Children’s views were also invited to determine Eurochild’s future strategic direction. An ECC representative noted that it is nice “to know that there are people in the world who are willing to take on risks and keep on going” to ensure children’s right to participate is respected.

Child participation during the pandemic

Members and children came together at the Eurochild Member’s Day to discuss the different challenges and good practices developed to ensure children’s participation despite the pandemic-related restrictions. The Eurochild Children’s Council also hosted a session on ‘Life after COVID’ and showed their leadership in hosting such a discussion. Among other things, the children addressed the insufficient attention given to mental health, the need to respect young people’s free time, as well as the limits/advantages of online participation. Highlights from this and other sessions will be made available to Eurochild’s members shortly.

A Eurochild Children’s Council (ECC) representative introduced the ECC Activity Report 2020, complementing the annual report of Eurochild. Through the video, the Eurochild Children’s Council members reflected on the most memorable activities they had been involved in, and their personal reflections on how the ECC has developed and grown as an entity.

Recommitting itself to meaningful child participation, Eurochild adopted its latest child participation strategy at the annual gathering.

Learn more about Eurochild’s Child Participation work here