Creating social accountability
Strengthening systems is only one side of the story. As well as bolstering the ‘supply’ side, we help to generate ‘demand’. If families are to claim their children’s rights to health services, inclusive education and other basic support, they have to be aware of those rights in the first place. Children and parents need to be able to take part in the decisions that affect them, so that they can connect to decision makers and, therefore, reinforce accountability. Monitoring is a crucial element of social accountability – tracking progress (or the lack of it) on key child rights issues.
Our work on new standards, for example, has helped to link social and health services to prevent the institutionalization of vulnerable children. And we have enhanced our support for the promotion of breastfeeding to, more broadly, empower mothers to claim their rights to be treated with dignity and respect.
We work with the Government, independent child rights bodies, NGOs, the private sector and the media to hard-wire child rights into national DNA. Our substantive work with the private sector, for example, goes beyond fundraising to incorporate child rights into regular business, based on the Principles for Business on Children’s Rights. Our work with civil society organizations goes beyond support for their day-to-day work to upgrade their capacity to monitor the situation of children and advocate on their behalf with policy-makers. Our work on inclusive education, for example, encourages the parents of marginalized children to join Parents Associations. We support Roma-led NGOs in their efforts to help Roma families claim their rights under the law. And we are pushing for the active engagement of vulnerable adolescents in the work of Serbia’s new Youth Offices.