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Global Network of Religions for Children Balkans Regional Meeting

Arigatou International—Nairobi (AI—N) in partnership with the First Children’s Embassy in the World - MEGJASHI (FCEWM), organised a Balkans regional meeting in Skopje, Macedonia, on the 26th February 2018 – 1st March 2018. The meeting was convened by Arigatou International Initiatives, the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and Interfaith Initiative to End Child Poverty (End Child Poverty).

The meeting brought together 30-35 GNRC members and partners from 9 countries; Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Romania, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia; and Arigatou International staff from Kenya. 

The aim of the regional meeting was to:

  1. Build momentum to implement targeted commitments arising from the GNRC 5th Forum.
  2. Develop a relevant community mobilisation and advocacy strategy to address child poverty and violence against children
  3. Strengthen the GNRC network and cooperation within the region

Key discussions were based on, Mobilising faith communities to End Child Poverty and Violence against children and developing a community Mobilisation and Advocacy Strategy.

Discussions during the regional meeting were guided by the; Panama Declaration on Ending Violence Against Children, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Interfaith Resource Guide to End Child Poverty, ‘Act. Inspire. Change’,and 2018/9 GNRC Regional  & Country action plans.

The barriers identified in addressing Child Poverty and Violence Against Children included;

  • Lack of or poor child protection policies 
  • Lack of implementation of laws and policies
  • Lack of attention to child protection policies and programs by most states
The participants resolved to the approach the problem putting into action three main strategies. First, identifying the  mistakes and problems afterwards ensuring that policies  were put in place to solve the problem and  established  social changes, the faith communities were also urged to come out more against social injustice than it is currently doing by encouraging more interfaith action to end child poverty and violence.
 
Rev. Fred Nyabera said, "It is necessary to change policies, but also to change the consciousness, people should think differently. It is not enough just to research, locate problems, and change policies, but rather to organize everything together to do more in our own organizations. As also noted by Children’s Embassy Megjashi Founder and President Dragi Zmijanac noted that it is necessary the public, civil society organizations, religious communities and the state to mobilize comprehensively in order to manage child poverty and violence meted on children."