First website to promote child participation launched in Armenia
YEREVAN, 14 March 2012 – UNICEF and Youth for Achievements NGO launched today http://www.ashakert.am/ - the first website to promote child participation in Armenia.
“It is a true pleasure to be present today at an event which has a potential to change the way adults perceive children and children perceive important processes of decision-making and their role in those processes. Today we are making the first important step towards establishing a process that we call meaningful child participation,” UNICEF Representative in Armenia Henriette Ahrens said, addressing representatives of various ministries, local and international civil society organizations, school administrators and children.
The newly created website is primarily designed for members of Student Councils established in all schools in Armenia and aims to intensify Student Councils’ activities in the area of child protection and child participation.
“I think this is a great initiative as it will not only activate School Student Councils, but will create an army of strong child rights advocates and responsible citizens of Armenia,“ member of the National Assembly of Armenia Anahit Bakhshyan said.
Piloted in 30 schools of Armenia, the website is planned to serve as a major platform for School Student Councils of the country to participate in decision-making processes not only at school level, but also at the level of the government.
“The website offers a unique opportunity for school students as it not only allows children to share their views, ideas, photos and events, but, what is more important, to address their problems, concerns and recommendations to major decision-making bodies, including ministries, the parliament and the Ombudsman’s Office, “ Youth for Achievements NGO Deputy President Andranik Martirosyan said.
“The Office of the Human Rights Defender of Armenia commits to follow up on all concerns and issues addressed by children and School Student Councils through this website. I believe that for us it will be a good source of information,” Head of the Child Rights Unit of the Ombudsman’s Office Aida Muradyan stressed.
The website also offers school students a wealth of information resources on various issues of their concern and provides with an opportunity to discuss different subjects in the forum area and vote in mini opinion polls.
“We believe that this website will give start to a broader process. To be most effective, participation requires widespread changes in political and institutional structures, as well as in attitudes, values and cultural practices, so that children are recognized as citizens and stakeholders in the present – not just in the future, “ UNICEF Representative stressed.
The website was launched by children of “Foton” School based in Gyumri, Armenia’s second largest city. Using Skype, children in an interactive way demonstrated all features of the new website to those who gathered for the launch ceremony in Yerevan.
The project was implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Youth for Achievement non-governmental organization and with financial support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.