UNICEF’S young reporters launch child poverty reduction campaign with the National Parliament
Every third child in Montenegro is at risk of poverty and this number is expected to increase due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
PODGORICA, 20 NOVEMBER 2020 – On the occasion of World Children's Day, celebrated worldwide on 20 November to mark the anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF Montenegro’s young reporters are launching a campaign for a reduction in child poverty with the Speaker of Montenegro’s National Parliament, Aleksa Bečić.
Every third child in Montenegro is at risk of poverty and this number is expected to increase due to the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Young people are facing the COVID-19 crisis primarily as an educational and an economic crisis. We want to know what the newly elected parliamentarians, government and other institutions will be doing for us. How will they support children and young people who live in poverty? Let's not forget that many of us will have the right to vote in a few years.
Her colleague, Arsenije Aleksa Mraković, points out that they want to hear different opinions from various people.
The exchanging of opinions between experts, decision-makers, the representatives of various institutions, and also young people can help us identify the best solutions. We want to draw more attention to this issue with this campaign.
The young reporters started the campaign by first asking Parliament Speaker Aleksa Bečić to tell them in one minute how to reduce child poverty in Montenegro.
We should definitely think about reintroducing the child allowance. In the coming years, we want all children, in all municipalities in Montenegro, to have free school textbooks. We want all children who want to do sports to have this opportunity no matter what the economic status of their parents is. We want awards and scholarships for our children. This is our priority.
UNICEF’s young reporters will continue the campaign by asking the representatives of all the parliamentary clubs to respond to the same question – How do we reduce child poverty in Montenegro? – in one minute. They will also ask this question to representatives of the new government once it is constituted, to academia, to the international community, the civil sector, the relevant institutions, young people, etc. They will share the answers with all media outlets, but also on social media in order to allow for greater citizen participation in this debate.
By the end of the year, we hope to have heard a series of different answers that will help policy-makers make the best choices for children and young people in Montenegro. We will hold them accountable for what they say – we will have it all recorded.
In the opinion of UNICEF Montenegro Representative Juan Santander, the best way to start this campaign on child poverty reduction is with the active participation of young people.
We believe in active citizenship and that is what we are promoting among young people. It is important for Montenegrin institutions to show that they value young people's participation by taking them seriously both when they ask questions and when they discuss and share opinions. We want to support such intergenerational dialogues so that they become part of the everyday public debate on human rights in Montenegro.
He adds that child poverty is not just about a lack of income, but at its core it is to do with a lack of opportunities during childhood and youth for people to reach their full potential. It is a loss for society as a whole. It is our collective responsibility to reduce child poverty urgently, with a strong focus on quality education for all and on early childhood investments, Santander concludes.
The Rapid Social Impact Assessment of COVID-19 conducted by the UN system in Montenegro in April shows that one in three families with children under the age of 6 cannot afford all the necessary basic baby- and child-related products. Similarly, one-third of families with children aged 6–18 report not being able to afford clothes and footwear for their children. Therefore, reforming the social protection system to ensure adequate living standards for every Montenegrin child should be an urgent and essential part of the country’s general socio-economic development strategy.