Championing Meaningful Children’s Participation at the UNCSC 2024

Arigatou International recognizes and values meaningful children’s participation and engagement in both actions and discourses aimed at creating a better and sustainable world for all. It is this strong belief that shaped Arigatou International’s Workshop at the United Nations Civil Society Conference in Nairobi on 9 May 2024.

The Workshop, held in collaboration with the Interfaith Alliance for Safer Communities (IAFSC) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), sought to foster multistakeholder partnerships and commitments to advance children’s well-being and rights for sustainable development by promoting meaningful children’s participation and empowerment.

While lauding their meaningful engagement in the Workshop, children, called for more involvement in conversations and actions on their well-being. They decried that most actions and conversations on children’s well-being has been done without children in the past, and the idea of meaningful children’s participation is now being appreciated, and that there was need for more involvement of children.

“We need to recognise, value, and respect young people,” said Francisca, a child at the Workshop (also a member of the SDGs Academy for Children).

She added that to leave no child behind regarding meaningful participation, there is a need for secure technological support for children from all over the world to share their voices on issues concerning them.

Speaking on a panel, Brian King, a youth participant at the Workshop, underscored Francisca’s sentiments, emphasizing that meaningful children participation should not be underestimated but embraced and that organizations working for children should always deliberately work with children.

While children valued the support of adults in creating a better world for them, reflections from the Workshop cautioned against ‘adult-centrism’ in children’s participation as this hinders children from freely expressing themselves without fear.

“We can create a better world with the help of adults, but we should be allowed to be ourselves (children) even in platforms like this (the Workshop),” Mathew, a participating child at the Workshop, said.

Moderating the conference proceedings, Arigatou International – End Child Poverty Director Fred Nyabera constantly reminded participants of the crucial need to create a better world that honors the dignity and potential of every child.

“We are bound by a shared commitment to not only envision but actively contribute to shaping a future that cherishes and uplifts every child,” he said.

Similar thoughts were shared by Dr. Mustafa Y. Ali, Secretary General of the GNRC, in his address at the Workshop.

“Adults tend to talk to themselves while thinking of shaping the future. Children need to be at the center of shaping their future. Their involvement is paramount and should not just be seen as passive participants,” he emphasized.

The Workshop played a crucial role as both a meaningful children’s participation platform and a space to foster multistakeholder collaboration and discussions towards the empowerment and well-being of children. The Workshop brought together 106 participants, including 30 children, and took place in person in Nairobi, Kenya.

The United Nations Civil Society Conference (2024 UNCSC) was the premier event on the civil society calendar at the United Nations. The Conference offered civil society organizations an opportunity to put a global perspective on a specific issue. It brought together senior UN System officials, prominent international civil society organizations, youth changemakers, academia, public opinion makers, and international media to discuss issues of global concern. The Conference took place in Nairobi, Kenya, at the UN complex.

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