What is the participation of children and adolescents?

Since the nineteenth century, the place of children in society has changed significantly. As children have been recognized and considered, it has become increasingly clear that they should also be able to be involved in the decisions that affect them. Children are essential players in the future world. Involving them involves encouraging them to express their views on issues that concern them and to give them the means to do so. When making decisions, it is necessary to guarantee children’s freedom of expression and to take their opinions into account.

In practice, this assumes that adults listen to children – paying attention to their multiple and varied modes of communication.

In a society, all citizens have the right to participate, including children. From an early age, children can constructively influence the world around them. Since November 20, 1989, participation has been recognized as a right for every child through the International Convention on the Rights of the Child. Participation is not only a fundamental right, but it also promotes the growth and development of children and adolescents. When they have to make real choices and are fully involved in managing their lives, they gain confidence, learn skills and learn to protect their rights.

Decisions that affect children or affect their future must reflect their views.

Children have ideas, experience and insights that enrich adult understanding and make a positive contribution to change. The participation of children is the responsibility of all: Government, parents, teachers, school directors, public administration, magistrates, etc. Society as a whole must increase opportunities for effective participation of children.

In adopting the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has recognized children as the bearers of social, economic, civil, cultural and political rights, as adults. Although the promotion of children’s rights has been a central element of the national agenda in recent years, child participation has often been only symbolic. With this in mind, UNICEF and the Ministry of Gender, Family and Children of the DRC have chosen to give children the floor and the tools to defend their opinions and rights.