Municipal Youth Councils
The Municipal Youth Councils Initiative is a local response to the fact that every child and adolescent has the right to participation, as established in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A Youth and Children’s Municipality is a space for children and adolescent participation in the Child Friendly Municipalities, for their integration into the municipal council, while providing an educational experience where adults as well as boys, girls and young people can learn new ways of making decisions in the municipality, in a participative, democratic, inclusive, transparent and responsible manner.
It is made up of the posts of Council Leader, Deputy Council Leader, Secretary, Treasurer and Board of Councillors, all occupied by boys, girls and young people who are elected by the entire child and youth population of the municipality.
Its objectives include the promotion of children and young people’s participation, the promotion of children and young people’s say in the development of their communities and in the municipal council, as well as contributing to the creation of public leaders in a participative democratic system and ensuring that children under the age of 18 are given priority in the local council’s agenda.
A Municipal Youth Councils represents all boys, girls and young people of the Municipality, regardless of politics, gender, nationality or race, while coordinating participatory mechanisms that enable other boys, girls and young people in the community to express their points of view.
In its activities, it takes the opinions of the under-18 age group into account in the municipality and discusses them in its Council meetings, with the aim of finding solutions and defining courses of action. It plans projects and presents them to the authorities, and puts them into motion once it receives the resources laid out in the budget.
It works in coordination with the Municipal Council and other local institutions to implement the proposed solutions. The initiative is based on the principles of participation, democracy, inclusion, transparency and responsibility.
In the first elections, which were held in five Child Friendly Municipalities, 30,197 boys, girls and young people voted, 175 candidates put themselves up for election and defended their proposed policies to audiences made up of boys, girls and young people in their municipalities, and 96 of them were elected.
Every Municipal Youth Councils prepares its own work programme and receives funds for this from the Municipal Council. Some of the projects implemented to date have included working on a late birth declaration campaign organised in partnership with the Children and Young People’s Prosecutors Office, the creation of children’s libraries in bateyes and conducting a census on the population of three bateyes.
Others have taken part in defining a 15-year municipal development plan and in the launch event for the National Human Development Report for the young population. They have also organised ‘Homework Rooms” to support state school students who are studying for their national exams and Talks on children’s rights and health care, for boys, girls and young people in schools and neighbourhoods.
Other municipal authorities have finished decorating paediatric waiting rooms in the provincial hospital, with funds raised through a youth fair.
Speaking from their experience…
“I’ve learned more about Municipal Councils, basically about how they work and who works there, also about children’s rights and the institutions that defend them, and maybe more importantly, to plan and implement projects, to realise that if I do good things I am capable of being part of the changes that I want to see. And why not? I’ve also strengthened skills like leadership, motivation, understanding, tolerance, democracy, etc.” (Ernesto Cabral – Youth Councillor in Baní, age 16).
“Really we’ve learned so many things that I have become a different person, I’ve learned everything, from how to speak to how to obtain things, how to help, how to love people more and value what we all have.” (Betty Polanco – Youth Mayor in La Romana, age 15).
“In Mao we’ve needed a project for boys, girls and young people for a long time now, and what’s more, this project is extremely important for the development of our leaders.” (Geny Lozada – Youth Councillor in Mao, age 17).
Third Youth and Children’s Municipalities Summer Camp
Baní progresses towards creating a new citizenry
Villa Altagracia Youth and Children’s Municipality