Child protection

Child protection

Legal Reforms and Institutional Strengthening Project

Child and Adolescent Participation Project

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Historial File of Bolivian Alliance

FIRST STEPS: WORKSHOPS AND DECALOGUES

Between June and September of 2001, the Bolivian Children's Alliance (BCA) began its existence, working to ensure the observance of child and adolescent rights. These were months of intense work and of great achievements and happy moments. For the first time in Bolivia, children throughout the country mobilized with one voice: " We are here for our rights and for our country".

National departments in action
The Alliance organized workshops in the capitals of the nine national departments (Cochabamba, La Paz, Beni, Pando, Oruro, Chuquisaca, Potosi, Tarija and Santa Cruz) and in the city of The Alto.

During these encounters the participants:

prepared the Departmental Decalogue for Child and Adolescent Rights. In these commandments, the children and   adolescents priorized the rights they considered most important for their development.

elected five members to represent each department at the National Workshop.


Cochabamba, meeting point
The national workshop took place in Cochabamba in August, 2001. Fifty departmental representatives:

agreed upon a sole National Decalogue.

named two representatives to participate in the Children's Forum. This forum was held from May 5-7, within the framework of the United Nations Special Session for Children, held from May 8-10, 2002 in New York. The BCA representatives elected were: Gabriela Azurduy, age 12, and Jorge Chavez, age 15.


The country mobilizes
On September 21, 2001, children and adolescents belonging to the BCA, led widespread mobilizations in the departmental capitals as well as in the city of El Alto.

On the same day in La Paz, the President of the Republic, Jorge Quiroga, received the National Decalogue from one of the child representatives, Jorge Chavez. This special act took place at the Government Palace. The President promised to work for child and adolescent rights and assured them he would form part of the Alliance. Ministers and international cooperation representatives were present, as well as NGOs.

THE NATIONAL DECALOGUE

Child and adolescent representatives from every national department and from the city of El Alto met in August of 2001. This encounter constituted the first National Workshop of the Bolivian Children's Alliance.

The result of the meeting was the agreement on a NATIONAL DECALOGUE that summarizes the ten rights that Bolivian children and adolescents consider priorities for their development.

Bolivian children and adolescents called for the following:

1.       The right to life: this is the most important right but the one which is least respected. We children and adolescents have the right to be born, to life and to a life with dignity.

2.       The right to observance of our rights: everyone talks about children being the national future, but they forget about our present. We do not want more laws or to create a new world by magic, we only want the Convention on the Rights of the Child to be respected and observed.

3.       The right to education: some schools do not have materials and have poor infrastructure. Our teachers are not properly trained. The school calendar should take into account the differences existing between urban and rural areas. Girls should have the same opportunities as boys. Schools must take the needs of disabled children into account.

4.       The right to health: in Bolivia too many children die from preventable diseases.

5.       The right to protection: many children and adolescents throughout the country have to face daily situations of violence and abuse, both inside and outside of their homes. Laws do exist but are not observed. There are institutions which can help us but we are not informed about them.

6.       The right to conserve and protect the environment: we children and adolescents are part of the planet Earth. We must be actively participate in taking care of it and adults should help us creating awareness amongst the population and to punish those people who break the law.

7.       The right to an identity: we children and adolescents have the right to a nationality, a name and two family names, to a culture and to a language. We must remember that many different cultures live together in Bolivia, and it is our responsibility to take care that all of these have equal representation.

8.       The right to freedom of expression: we children and adolescents have the right to organize ourselves to promote our rights and to be informed about topics which affect us. For us to be able to do this, the media and society in general have to take our opinions, criteria and feelings into account.

9.       The right to protection against discrimination: as Bolivian children and adolescents we are looking for equality for everyone so that Bolivia will be a better place. We cannot discriminate against people because of their sex, language or culture.

10.   The right to a family: as children and adolescents, we know that having a family is fundamental for our personal, moral and affective development. Owing to the situation of poverty and te economic crisis, many families separate and many children and adolescents are abandoned

FORUM: CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS ON THE POLITICAL AGENDA

On June 30, 2002 Bolivia held Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Taking advantage of this moment of democratic renewal, the Bolivian Children's Alliance (ABNA) promoted the holding of the Forum: Children and Adolescents on the Political Agenda.

The ABNA invited Presidential and Vicepresidential candidates from all political parties to participate. The event was set for June 17, 2002 from 3 to 8 p.m. and held in the Auditorium of the Palace of Communications in the city of La Paz.

The Forum responded to the urgent need to establish a true dialogue between generations and throughout the country. Never before had children and adolescents in Bolivia met with politicians to dialogue as equals.

The objective was for that politicians to publicly sign a commitment stating that they would implement measures to ensure observance of child rights in Bolivia during their mandate.

When the big day arrived, 8 of the 11 political parties attended and sent their Vicepresidencial candidates as representatives. The Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party also took part.

The event finally accomplished its objective. The politicians promised to:

  design social policies as contemplated in the· Code for Children and Adolescents.

  outline proposals to generate the necessa·ry resources to promote these public policies.

  incorporate the rights of the child within Constitutional Reform with a· special character.

Also, they promised to establish short and long term goals to fulfill their commitments.

The Alliance gets ready

Throughout May and June, the ABNA held a series of meetings to prepare for the Forum. Child forums were held in the nine national departments and a National Encounter was held on June 15 and 16, 2002 in the city of La Paz.

At the national meeting, the departmental delegates outlined the proposal to be presented to the political candidates at the Forum with an active and participative methodology.

After socializing each department's contribution, the National Workshop established a diagnosis of the situation of Bolivian children and adolescents. Other important inputs were the document "A World Fit for Children", product of the Special Session for Children, as well as a report synthesizing the programmatic proposals of the different political parties on aspects concerning children.

THE ALLIANCE AND THE SPECIAL SESSION FOR CHILDREN

Children and adolescents of the Bolivian Children's Alliance (ABNA) elected two members to represent Bolivian children at the Children's Forum, held during the United Nations Special Session for Children. The election took place during the National Workshop held in August of 2001.

Gabriela Azurduy, age 12, and Jorge Chavez, age 15, travelled to New York and took part in the Children's Forum, held from May 5 to 7 to 2002, within the framework of the Special Session for Children.

The Special Session, held from May 8 to 10 of 2002, was a meeting of extraordinary character called by the General Assembly of the United Nations and dedicated to children and adolescents. The event was originally planned to be held from September 19 to 21 of 2001. However, following the tragic events of September 11, it was postponed.

The two representatives of Bolivian children played an outstanding role in New York.

Over 350 children and adolescents from all over the world took part in the Children's Forum and elected Gabriela Azurduy, from Bolivia, and Audrey Cheynut, from Monaco, to present their conclusions to Heads of State and Government at the inauguration of the Special Session for Children. For the first time in history, the voice of children was heard in the UN General Assembly. "We are not the source of problems. We are the necessary resources to solve problems", declared Gabriela.

Jorge Chavez, the other Bolivian representative, was elected to represent Latin America and the Caribbean and participate with Heads of State from the region at special round tables to debate themes.

The result of the Special Session was a document entitled, "A World Fit for Children". This text defined 21 goals and specific objectives, in the areas of health, education and child protection to be achieved over the following decade. Bolivia ratified the document and thus committed itself to reach these goals. For this purpose, Bolivia has to elaborate a National Plan of Action and to implement this.

Upon their return to Bolivia, Gabriela and Jorge called on Bolivia to fulfill the recently acquired commitment in favour of children and stated their concern for the commitment  not to "stop at this stage".

'Say Yes for Children' campaign

During the Special Session for Children, the Global Movement for Children presented the results of the 'Say Yes to Children' campaign.

Through the campaign, people in over 110 countries showed their support with millions of commitments on 10 key principles to improve and protect the lives of children.

The Global Movement for Children is an initiative led by Nelson Mandela adn Graça Machel. Its objectives are to:

1.       Involve the world population in those affairs affecting children.

2.       Create sustained social pressure on governments, for them to make commitments to materialize policies and programmes that will ensure child and adolescent survival, development, protection and participation.

In Bolivia, voting was carried out between March and April of 2002. The total numbers of participants was 13,029. The three principles that received the greates number of votes were: educate all children; eliminate child abuse and exploitation; invest in children. The children and adolescents who form part of organisations inside the ABNA were the ones who voted in the 'Say Yes for Children' campaign.

Say Yes for Children campaign

THE VOIVE OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS IN THE RURAL AREA OF THE ANDES

Responding to the concerns for the low participation of children and adolescents from rural areas, the Bolivian Children's Alliance (ABNA) held a workshop from November 22 to 24 of 2002, entitled "The Voice of Children and Adolescents in Andean Rural Areas". The aim was to incorporate the movement of children and adolescents in Andean rural areas, so they could participate in the promotion, dissemination and defense of their rights.

The encounter, which took place in Cochabamba, gathered 52 children and adolescents. The participants came from 26 municipalities in Potosi and Cochabamba. The 26 persons in charge of the Municipal Defenders Offices and/or teachers also provided support for the development of activities.

The objectives of this workshop were:

· Train children and adolescents in everything concerning their rights, so they can disseminate this information in their communities.

· Increase their self-esteem, making them aware that they are subjects with rights.

· Increase their capacity for organization.

· Achieve interaction between rural children and the Defenders Offices in their municipalities as well as institutions working for their protection and integrated development.


Learning through recreation

The encounter was held in a relaxed and playful atmosphere. Various different dynamics were used, amongst which the most important were:

        I.            The Mirror dynamic implemented at the beginning, to strengthen the self-esteem of the participants. First, an announcement was made before the most important person participating entered the salon. Then a mirror was passed around to reflect the face of every person present. Every face mirrored was considered the most important person at the event. Conclusion: all participants were equally important.

     II.            The "We know each other better" dynamic was implemented afterwards to facilitate the interaction between children and adolescents. Every participant drew the shape of his/her hand on a sheet of paper. The sheet was then passed around between the participants who had to note down a positive characteristic on each finger. The objective was to return each sheet of paper to its owner.

Social dramas were also enacted. The children and adolescents were able to choose between different areas: health, the family, school and the community. They could also choose to represent the attitudes of adults towards them. Thanks to the representations of these children, it was possible to visualize the problems existing in each of these areas: abuse, abandonment, exploitation, alcoholism, lack of basic services, lack of schools …

Finally, there was time to have a party. The children and adolescents showed their dancing talents and enjoyed acting by various mimes and story tellers. The workshop ended and it was time to say goodbye. The participants had to return to their municipalities and communities; this was not the end, but the beginning of the work they had to do. Now they had to socialize everything they had learned. The moment had come for everyone to listen to them and their voice.

 

 

 
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