Every child has the right to a voice on matters that affect them and to have their views taken seriously – in accordance with their age and maturity.
UNICEF works with children, not just for them, both in our own work and by promoting youth participation with governments and partners. Children will have to deal with the consequences of the decisions adults make today on issues such as HIV and AIDS, climate change and poverty, so it is important that their views be considered by decision-makers.
Ahead of the Copenhagen Climate summit in 2009, UNICEF and the City of Copenhagen hosted the Children’s Climate Forum, giving young people a voice in the global climate change debate and an opportunity to influence decision-makers.
UNICEF recognises that if we listen to young people we can create more effective, relevant and sustainable programmes and policies, better fulfilling all their other rights. In 15 countries around the world, for instance, UNICEF has involved young people as researchers, programme designers and communicators in the Right to Know initiative to help young people make informed decisions about how to prevent HIV infections.
We reach out to the children whose voices are most likely to go unheard and provide opportunities for them to express their views freely. We support innovative programmes such as photo workshops and child-to-child radio programmes to enable children and young people to express themselves on issues that affect them.
In the UK, we work to ensure that children and young people can find out about their rights and express their views through our Tagd website.
Peter is a UNICEF-trained youth journalist in Southern Sudan. He has produced a report on the problem of hunger and high food prices in the region. Read blog article.