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Child Participation in India Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shweta, India Jun 27, 2006
Child & Youth Rights   Opinions
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What is Child Participation?

Participation is about having the opportunity to express a view effectively, influencing decision making and achieving change. Children’s participation involves informed, willing, appropriate and relevant involvement of all children, including the most vulnerable, in the decisions and actions that impact their lives either directly or indirectly. Participation is a core principle of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Article 12 of UNCRC places an obligation on governments to assure that the child who is capable of forming his or her own views, the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

The UNCRC provides the following general principles on participation:

• Children have rights to be listened to, to freely express their views on all matters that affect them, and to freedom of expression, thought, association and access to information.

• Measures should be put in place to encourage and facilitate their participation in accordance with their age and maturity.

• Participation should promote the best interest of the child and enhance the personal development of each child.

• All children have equal rights to participation without discrimination.

• All children have the right to be protected from manipulation, violence, abuse and exploitation.

Children’s participation with the rights based approach is a way of working. However, participation has to be meaningful. This involves transparency, honesty, and accountability. Meaningful child participation also requires promotion of safety and protection of children as well as a child-friendly and an enabling environment. Participation is both a means and a goal.

Child Participation: Why should it be a right?

Democracy presupposes not only equality but also the right to life and individual liberty. UDHR, UNCRC as well as Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India state the rights essential for ensuring right to life and liberty, the development of every human being’s personality, and to preserve human dignity. Children are seen as rights holders and have the right to non discrimination, survival, development, participation, information, expression and association, the right to identity and nationality. Participation as a right has to be assured to children because:

• The right to participate is a basic human right. It is universal, inalienable and indivisible.

• Children want to participate.

•Participation benefits the children involved. It enhances self confidence, gives a sense of purpose and dignity, is an opportunity to learn and practice the skills of responsible and active citizenship, and increases possibility to protect themselves and challenge abuses of rights. This is essential for helping the child achieve his/her full potential. Hence, participation is essential to ensuring the Right to Life and Liberty as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

• Programmes which involve children’s participation are likely to be more appropriate, relevant, sustainable and responsive to needs of children and young people. The effectiveness of interventions is enhanced when children contribute to the analysis of what will serve their best interest. Participation can provide new perspectives on issues that are relevant to children as well as lead to better decisions based on children’s own experience and knowledge.

• Participation empowers children as members of civil society and as active responsible citizens. Through participation, children can exercise their responsibilities and strengthen their ability to hold the duty-bearers (government, organisations, institutions, others) accountable. This can increase awareness about children and young people’s issues; inclusion of children’s issues in the social, economic and political agendas; and ultimately lead to good governance. Hence, participation is also an evident outcome as well as prerequisite for the Directive Principles of State Policy.

The child, rather than being seen as the recipient of protection and assistance, has to be regarded as a person with rights who is able to express opinions, participate in decision making and influence the creation of solutions to problems.

Child Participation: The current processes

Most children in this world are denied both legal capacity and autonomy. At the same time, children’s participation has existed in cultures in different ways, even though this is not always recognised. Children participate in many ways, informally, in family and community life, such as at home, school, informal play, etc. Participation is one of the significant rights described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since the adoption of UNCRC, many organisations across the world have taken steps to enhance participation of children and young people through various strategies.

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Writer Profile

Shweta has been working in the development sector for the last 6 years. Her association started when she enrolled herself in the Post Graduation course in Social work. Her perspectives have grown with her work at Saarthak.
Saarthak is a Non-Governmental Organization, working in the field of mental health.

Child Panchayats
jamal siddiqui | Aug 16th, 2006
it's a good one....! Do you know about "Bal Panchayats" here in rajasthan one of our partner NGO is working on it...it is also on similar lines of Child participation. How do you link it with mental health? that is not very clear to me...its about rights i think. what do you think???

rights and mental health
Shweta | Aug 17th, 2006
rights are linked very much with mental health. and violation of your right (including right to participate) imjapcts your mental health directly. You can look at the secion on "mental health imapacts of non particiaption". it breifly shares how when we are not able to participate..our thinking pattners get impacted. these thinking patterns only then start defining our personality.

vas | Aug 31st, 2006
I agree with you.at a flower stall i met gajanand ,a lad of 14 .he works in hismorning ,in evening works for the flower vendor .he dropped school at 11 years t share family burden.he has two unmarried sisters,one widow aunt,to young brothers to look after.14 is not the age to think about family burden.

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