World Children’s Day: Let’s listen to them!

Every November 20th, we commemorate the adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a treaty now embraced by 197 states. The CRC is designed to safeguard and ensure the rights of all children. Today, we take a moment to emphasize that among these rights is the freedom of information, expression, and participation1. Unfortunately, children are often overlooked in discussions and decision-making processes that directly impact them, especially those facing vulnerability.

However, each child possesses the right to express themselves, actively contribute to shaping their future, make choices, and have their opinions acknowledged. It lies within the responsibility of adults and nations to ensure that the voices of the youth are not only heard but respected!

The right to participation

In collaboration with our local partners, we promote an approach that empowers children to express themselves and be acknowledged by the adults in their lives, with the goal of addressing their needs effectively. Youth participation stands as the cornerstone of successful socio-educational support and effective advocacy for children's rights.

Last May, young people from REIPER member organisations in the Republic of Congo engaged with experts from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. These children shared their experiences, observations, and aspirations with the Committee, contributing to the examination of the application of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in Congo. Such participatory spaces are vital for gaining an informed understanding of the realities faced by children and taking appropriate action.

Participation as a socio-educational approach

Our Peruvian partner, based in Cusco, Qosqo Maki, has embedded participation at the core of its organizational model—a community-based system built on the principles of co-management and freedom of expression between young people and educators. The objective is to provide children with the opportunity to actively engage in activities. Weekly meetings between educators and young individuals serve as a platform for discussions on daily life at the centre. According to a former young participant supported by Qosqo Maki, "Once a week, there was a meeting where everyone gave their opinion, everyone expressed themselves about what we were going to do. I think that helped us a lot". This operating model encourages them to voice their opinions on matters directly affecting them, empowers them, and supports them in developing autonomy.

Advocacy for and by young people

Youth participation is also fundamental to the Apprentice Reporters project initiated by Joachim Ambambo in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The project aims to utilize media as a tool for children living on the streets or in challenging environments to express their opinions, discuss their living conditions, and actively contribute to ongoing social debates within the community. The young participants in this project receive support from four of our partner structures in Congo: ORPER, OSEPER, Vivre et Travailler Autrement (VTA), and Jeunes au Soleil (JOS).

In Madagascar, our partner, the Plateforme de la Société Civile pour l’Enfance (PFSCE), has established a children's committee and organizes advocacy activities with youth participation. During Childhood Month in June, young individuals from PFSCE member structures took part in a program on Malagasy National Radio. A 14-year-old participant expressed, "It was an opportunity for me to express my opinions; it is also part of enjoying my rights". Such activities serve to raise awareness among communities and youth regarding children's rights.

Empowering youth with a voice is crucial for their support and protection, laying the foundation for the realization of children's rights. We are committed to promoting the active participation of children and youth, ensuring that every voice, without exception, resonates with their families, communities, and governments.



1 Articles 12,13,14,15 and 17 of the CRC

2 Œuvre de Reclassement et de Protection des Enfants de la Rue

3 Œuvre de Suivi, Éducation et de Protection des Enfants de la Rue