Children’s right to active participation, to give their opinions on decisions which concern them and be heard by adults constitutes a basic and essential component in the process of building responsible citizenship.
One of the most important lessons learned over the last decade is the acknowledgement of the essential nature of the vision and perspective of children in the challenging task of ensuring that the right to participation is effective. The intervention of the children themselves when addressing participation laws, proposals and programmes has thus become one of the basic conditions in the formulation and/or redesign of public policies. A significant reflection of this realization is the emergence of opportunities for dialogue and direct consultation with adolescents in Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay, known as “consultative councils”, as well as the expansion of participation experiences throughout the region.
On the basis of an express mandate from the States, the IIN has produced papers and organized presentations and events on participation; namely:
• Cartagena de Indias, July 2007 and Querétaro, Mexico, April 2008.
• IIN working paper on “Child participation experiences in the promotion, application and defence of their rights”, April 2008.
• Working paper on “The principle of child participation: an approach to the design of a theoretical framework”, February 2009.
• UNICEF Presentation on “Adolescent Participation”, February 2009.
• Presentation of Ecuador’s National Children’s Consultative Council, February 2009.
• The First Pan-American Child Forum; an opportunity for dialogue, opinion and incidence at the highest levels of decision-making in the OAS, as regards children’s and adolescent’s rights. This event was consolidated and institutionalized in the framework of the Twentieth Pan-American Child Congress and future congresses.
• Realization of four meetings of the Intergenerational Participation Working Group, concentrating and strengthening the work carried out by the Network of Technical Liaison Officers for the Promotion of Participation. The Working Group has been meeting since 2009.
• Development of a Model of Participation which includes the experiences of countries in promoting participation, strategies for learning and developing capacity (online courses) and framework documents for conceptual consensus and reflection/action regarding participation: a Framework of Reference, Menu of Indicators, a Guide for the Formulation of Public Policies for Participation and a Toolkit to promote and protect participation.
We have also developed the web site “Nuestra Voz en Colores” (Our Voice in Colour) with the aim of encouraging exchanges regarding child and adolescent participation.