Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative
Child Friendly Municipalities: A Commitment to Municipal Development
In September 1990 the Italian UNICEF Support Committee held a meeting that was attended by over 300 Mayors who committed themselves to becoming “Children’s Defenders”.
Several international and continental meetings were held in the 1990s with Mayors, in an attempt to promote and approve a global initiative aimed at confirming Mayors as Children’s Defenders.
This initiative took shape in the Dominican Republic with the “First Regional Meeting of Child Defender Mayors” held in Salcedo on 2 October 1993, attended by 19 Mayors from the Cibao and Northern regions. This meeting ended with the signing of the “Salcedo Declaration” in which the mayors committed themselves to putting children’s issues on the local government agenda.
“Protection, education, health and all the other children’s rights should be a comprehensive and basic part of our City Council meeting agenda” (Salcedo declaration).
A similar event to that of Salcedo was held in San Juan de la Maguana the following year, with a number of Mayors from the South of the country.
Since 1997 UNICEF-Dominican Republic, in cooperation and coordination with the Dominican Municipal League decided to review its intervention model at a municipal level, on the basis that the post of mayor is temporary, and changed the focus from “Child Defender Mayors” to “Child Friendly Municipalities”, institutionalising the commitment to children at municipal level.
To date, 115 municipal areas (94 municipalities and 21 Municipal Districts) have declared themselves Child Friendly by a city council resolution in which they express the municipality’s willingness to work in favour of the rights of children and young people.
The intention is to comply with what is set out in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. In order to achieve this, each municipality needs to do the following:
• Establish local mechanisms, as set out in Law 136-0: Municipal Directory, Municipal Office and Local Protection Boards.
• Formulate a Municipal Agenda for guaranteeing children’s and young people’s rights.
• Draw up a strategic plan for municipal development.
• Make municipal administration more democratic by creating new participation mechanisms for the community and for children and adolescents in particular.
• Support the creation and working of a Department or Unit for the protection of children’s and young people’s rights.
• Demonstrate a minimum social spending on children amounting to 5% of the total municipal budget.
The Child Friendly Municipalities are currently considered to have great potential for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, providing that they possess the skills for implementing, coordinating and following-up inter-sectorial activities that have a direct impact on the community.
In a recent evaluation of the Child Friendly Municipalities initiative, the following achievements were highlighted:
• The creation of new governability structures that take into account children and their rights, as well as the role of the Municipal Council and the citizens in the protection of these rights.
• Opening spaces and creating opportunities for children and adolescents, which enable them to take part in municipal decision-making.
• Conducting planning processes aimed at guaranteeing the protection of boys, children and adolescent´s rights, based on participative analysis of children and their situation.
• Formulating participative municipal budgets that take children’s rights into account.
As can be seen, declaring a Municipality as Child Friendly cannot be an end in itself: it is just the start of a long process that needs to continue until a municipality where the municipal authorities, grassroots community organisations, non-governmental organisations, churches, traders, businesspeople and the community as a whole are jointly responsible and take on the notion that boys, girls and young people in their municipality are citizens who are subjects of rights.
New Accreditation Proposal for Child-Friendly Municipalities