Children and young people believe in the new strategy for the realization of their rights
PODGORICA, 16 April 2019 – The message from the public consultations on the draft Strategy for Child Rights in Montenegro 2019−2023, organized by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, with UNICEF support, was that children’s active involvement had largely contributed to the development of the Strategy.
Children’s participation in society is one of the guiding principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as one of its key challenges. It is therefore a success to see that, 30 years after the adoption of the Convention, children and young people are being taken seriously and are taking an active part in the development of the national strategy concerning their rights in Montenegro.
At the public consultations, the Director General of the Directorate for Social Welfare and Child Protection of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. Goran Kusevija, affirmed that the voices and suggestions of children and young people had been taken careful note of. He reminded that important laws, with a significant impact on the realization of child rights, had been adopted over the past few years.
The Strategy projects its vision into the future of children and provides the opportunities for them to realize all of their rights in Montenegro, to feel acknowledged and safe as citizens, and to accept the values and responsibilities that are conducive to the prosperity of society.
The high school students who took part in the consultations believe that decision makers will endorse their views and thus adjust the Strategy to the actual needs of children and young people in Montenegro.
“I believe that violence against children is one of the biggest problems we are faced with. One way of addressing it is through awareness raising, not just among children, but also among their teachers and parents. Schools, in addition to being places of learning, also need to help us cope with problems in life and provide protection and support,” stated 18-year-old Milica Radulovic in her speech.
Changes to the education system was the suggestion voiced by 17-year-old Balsa Bozovic from the Union of High School Students, as he thinks that education should respond to students’ needs.
“I also believe that young people should be made aware that their voice counts and they should be assisted in expressing themselves and their views, because we matter,” Balsa said.
Seventeen-year old Luka Pavicevic was happy with the process of the consultations, since it allowed them to voice their concerns, but also to suggest some solutions.
“I addressed inclusive education. I felt that parents, children, teachers and educators should take more active roles, as drivers of inclusive education. Also, young people should get involved in cultural events and community work,” Luka said.
Twelve-year-old Jasmina Berisa expects the implementation of the Strategy to considerably improve the lives of all children in the country.
“In the consultations, I said that the most important thing was reducing discrimination and poverty, while at the same time working to prevent violence against children,” Jasmina said.
The UNICEF Representative to Montenegro, Mr. Osama Khogali, asked all the relevant institutions – national and local authorities, civil society, academia, media, the private sector and the international community − to join forces for children.
This national strategy, together with several others, gives us an opportunity to commit to concrete actions towards the protection and promotion of the rights of every child in Montenegro, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion, degree of disability, family, socio-economic status, sexual orientation or other status.
The consultations with children and young people from across the country were organized in cooperation with the Union of High School Students of Montenegro, the “Golden Advisers” of the Ombudsman’s Office, and the Centre for Child Rights.
Besides children and young people, the development of the Strategy involved all the relevant partners from the Government and the NGO sector, academia, the Parliament, the Ombudsman’s Office, etc.