A school for responsible fathers, a family therapist, a discussion club for men and women. What do adolescents suggest doing to solve problems?
To introduce a one-year-long paternity and a two-year-long maternity leaves. To organize debating clubs for men and women in each city and town. Every family needs a psychotherapist. Do these suggestions sound unusual?
UNICEF Belarus met a number of young people from different regions of the country to discuss how to solve problems in their villages, cities and in general throughout Belarus.
The problems are real: the results of a massive multi-indicator cluster survey (MICS) speak for themselves. In 2019, it was held in Belarus for the third time to understand the situation in which women and children find themselves in our country. Here are some of the questions from the survey: what do parents do for the education and development of children, what methods of education do they use, how carefully do they treat their health, in what conditions do children live? And there were many more. You can read about the survey here.
The survey was held not just for fun. These are valuable facts that can help to identify social gaps and to understand how to close them. And it's not just adults who can do this.
It is important that the creative opinion of young people in Belarus is taken into account to develop solutions on issues such as gender equality, environment, mental health and many others. Their voice is a valuable resource. In 10-15 years, today's children and adolescents will make important decisions in the country.
UNICEF Belarus supports young people and develops their 21st century skills – communication, cooperation, critical thinking. As well as the ability to analyze data, draw the right conclusions and use them to find solutions.
This is one of the priorities for UNICEF Belarus, and we devote it a lot of time and effort. We supported the creation of Youth Parliaments so that adolescents could talk about their problems and be heard by adults who make decisions at the city or region level. We also supported the creation of resource centers where adolescents can implement ideas and projects to solve problems.
And in November-January, we held five online webinars for coordinators and representatives of the youth parliaments from Minsk, Mogilev, Gomel, Vitebsk and Brest oblasts. We told them about the main MICS results and gave them an opportunity to express their opinions.
Thus the adolescents learned that mothers are three times more likely than fathers to have various educational activities with their children. The participants of the discussion suggested introducing a mandatory paternity leave at least for a year, as well as classes for fathers, a school for responsible dads and even responsible fathers skills camps.
Adolescents learned what education methods parents usually apply. 26.7% of the interviewed parents in Brest oblast admitted that they use physical punishment on their children. In Vitebsk oblast the figure was even higher – 29.1%. In the Minsk oblast it was 17.7%. Young people suggested that parents should work with a family therapist. Another suggestion was to conduct an information campaign about the impact of violence, and create a hotline on proper parenting.
All these ideas can be brought to life. That's why UNICEF Belarus has launched a social innovation program for youth called UPSHIFT. Within the program there are trainings held for adolescents where they learn how to organize their own project. UNICEF in its turn financially supports the best ideas.
You can find out more about MICS and go through the webinar presentations here https://unicef.by/mics/.
UNICEF advocates for the rights and interests of children around the world. Together with its partners, UNICEF is working in more than 190 countries and territories and for 70 years has been supporting governments in the areas of child protection, development of their abilities, education, gender equality and health. UNICEF pays special attention to vulnerable children, including children with disabilities.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, please visit www.unicef.org.