My voice matters
UNICEF Bulgaria launched an informational and social campaign dedicated to the right to child participation
"My voice matters because I have something to say" - Lucy
In March 2015 UNICEF Bulgaria launched an informational and social campaign dedicated to the right to child participation. This means the informed and voluntary inclusion of children – also those belonging to marginalized groups, children of various ages and different abilities – in all matters which concern them directly or indirectly.
The first stage of the campaign focused on the conduction of a consultation with children of different age, social status and ethnic background. From March 10th until April 10th had the opportunity to fill-in an online survey – MY VOICE MATTERS – which covered topic of great private and public significance to them – such as education, healthcare, social protection, leisure activities, etc. Those consultations will be taken into consideration by the National Assembly, the Council of Ministers and the State Agency for Child Protection within the process of updating the National Strategy for the Child (more about it).
The second phase of the campaign starts at the beginning of April and was focused on change of public perceptions and attitudes towards child participation.
What is child participation all about?
Child participation is a right of all children – both on individual and group level (when children, for instance, represent other children in group organizations). On an individual level, children have the right to be heard and their opinions to taken into account whenever adults (parents, relatives, teachers, doctors, judges or other professionals) are making decisions which affect children. As a group, children have the right to be given the possibility to exert influence and provide information in relation to the decisions being made by the society – for example, in school, local authorities, providers of services, civil organizations or the Government.
Why is child participation important?
The participation is a basic right but it also serves as means to ensure the realization of other rights.
The right of the child to be heard is regulated in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It gives children unique social and legal status, acknowledging that – although children under the age of 18 do not have a full autonomy – they are still holders of full-fledged rights. This recognition obliges adults in regard to the empowerment of children: they are required to guarantee adequate protection of children and to look after their best interest; but in doing so adults also have to guarantee that children are provided with time, space and opportunities to express their freely opinions by themselves, and that those opinions will be considered whenever decisions and actions are being taken which affect directly or indirectly children’s well-being.