The State of the World's Children 2003
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Child participation involves encouraging and enabling children to make their views known on the issues that affect them. Put into practice, participation is adults listening to children — to all their multiple and varied ways of communicating. It ensures their freedom to express themselves and takes their views into account when coming to decisions that affect them. Engaging children in dialogue and exchange allows them to learn constructive ways of influencing the world around them.

Child participation must be authentic and meaningful. It must start with children and young people themselves, on their own terms, within their own realities and in pursuit of their own visions, dreams, hopes and concerns. Most of all, authentic and meaningful child participation requires a radical shift in adult thinking and behaviour — from an exclusionary to an inclusionary approach to children and their capabilities.

The drive to participate is innate in every human being. Promoting meaningful and quality participation of children and adolescents is essential to ensuring their growth and development. Children have proved that when they are involved, they can make a difference in the world around them. They have ideas, experience and insights that enrich adult understanding and make a positive contribution to adult actions.

It is UNICEF’s belief that if we are to meet the goals of ‘A World Fit for Children’ and attain the Millennium Development Goals, if we are to make the world truly fit for all people — we will only do so with the full participation of children and young people.


The following video stories highlight some of the key messages of The State of the World's Children 2003.

Josette’s tale
In Cuba, UNICEF works successfully with the Government to support a national early childhood programme called Educa a tu hijo (Educate your child). In Central Havana, members of the local community get together twice a week for Educa a tu hijo activities in their local park. Josette is there with her two children.
This video feature is part of Special topic 3

Caroline’s tale
In Kenya, sport provides another way for young people to develop skills for successful participation in society. Playing sports helps them develop self-esteem and build confidence. 14-year-old Caroline has become a role model for many girls her age and she takes advantage of her status by spreading life-saving information about HIV and AIDS.
This video feature is part of Special topic 4

Ebi and Akil’s tale
In Albania, Troç, a news show produced by children and broadcast on national television, is proving to be one of the most innovative and influential forms of youth participation in the region. Ebi and Akil, both aged 16, are Troç producers. They produce, write, film, edit and present the programme.
This video feature is part of Special topic 7

Soopit’s tale
In Thailand, child participation is being adopted in schools. Child-Friendly schools address the developmental needs of all children in a non-hierarchical atmosphere. 14-year-old Soopit is one of thousands children in the country whose lives have been affected by AIDS.
This video feature is part of Feature 3

The world’s children
The Special Session on Children, 8-10 May 2002, was an unprecedented meeting of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the children and adolescents of the world. Some 400 young delegates from all over the world gathered in New York for the event. Gabriella, Wilmot and Ha Lan were there to deliver their message.
This video feature is part of Special topic 8