UNICEF supported municipalities put children at the center of local planning
SKOPJE 28 January 2009: UNICEF, together with The Ministry of Local Self Governance, the European Commission Delegation and the Association of Local Self Government Units jointly launched today a manual for the development of local plans of action for children as well as an accompanying website that provides additional tools to support their implementation.
The organizations launched the manual at a conference to promote the Child Friendly Municipality Initiative. Building on the Global and European Child-Friendly Cities platform, the initiative was first introduced in the country in 2006 and is now being implemented in eleven out of eighty-four municipalities. The initiative advocates and provides tools for transparent and participatory decision making where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children are an integral part of local public policies, programmes and decisions.
“The Child Friendly Municipalities Initiative is strongly linked to the decentralisation process,” stated the Minister of Local Self Government, Mr. Musa Xhaferi. He emphasised that the programme provides concrete links to governance reform through the building of skills needed for effective local planning.
The initiative has contributed to increasing the awareness of child rights at the community level and helped make statutory changes to establish local child rights governing bodies. These bodies include participation from civil society, parents and young people themselves. The local version of DevInfo, a database system to track progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals was also provided as part of the initiative allowing municipalities to establish local data collection mechanisms. All participating municipalities now have concrete action plans and have increased the allocation of local resources to the most vulnerable children.
“The action plans developed by municipalities show that within the constraints of limited resources and limited capacities, municipalities can take action to make a difference for children,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Country Representative.
“Children’s rights form part of the human rights that the European Union and the Member States, as well as all countries aspiring to joint the European Union, are bound to respect under international and European treaties,’’ said Ambassador Erwan Fouéré, EU Special Representative and Head of the European Commission Delegation. He highlighted that municipalities have a key role to play in ensuring the country meets these obligations, particularly in addressing: social inclusion and the fight against poverty, anti-discrimination and participation.
During the conference, selected municipalities presented their local plans of action and explained what they were doing to monitor to child rights. These including actions to establish informal early child development programmes, traffic safety, and services for children living on the street, victims of domestic violence, and services for children with disabilities.
These plans and other resources have been made available in a web-based resource database www.opstinapomerkanadeteto.org.mk . The database provides all municipalities interested in joining the initiative with a one-stop-shop of materials including guides on How to Implement the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Local Self Government Units and How to Develop a Local Plan of Action for Children - two tools developed as part of the programme supported by UNICEF.
Calling on other mayors present to join the initiative, UNICEF Representative, Mr. Yett said that “their leadership and commitment would be essential to ensure that more municipalities are places where the voices, needs, priorities and rights of children were an integral part of public policies, programmes and decisions.”
UNICEF support to the initiative in the country will continue in the new country programme (2010-2015). By 2015 the programme aims to have more than half of the eight-four municipalities in the country certified as child friendly.
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