TO SPEAK, TO BE HEARD
Photography by Alex Webb
"I like disseminating our rights, our duties, so that children aren't molested, so that they know the rights and duties they have."
- Erica Sandrano, child presenter, Roda Viva
Participation is a human right, enshrined in Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and includes for children the right to expression and to active involvement in decision-making in matters that concern them. It requires information sharing and dialogue between children and adults, based on mutual respect and power sharing. Genuine participation gives children the power to shape both the process and outcome. But fulfilling the right to participation poses numerous challenges, from social norms to economic barriers and lack of political will to engage meaningfully with young people.
The Participatory Child Rights Media Network in Mozambique provides a space for children, who comprise more than half the country’s population, to come together and produce programmes that promote and discuss rights, issues, and priorities that impact their lives. At community radio stations, Radio Mozambique, and TV Mozambique, around 1400 kids have produced peer-to-peer programmes that reach out to other kids, but that also engage adults in debates and discussions on sometimes difficult issues, such as abuse in schools.
The children and young people fortunate enough to have access to the activities and spaces created by the Network and other participatory spaces witness an often remarkable transformation. They have a better understanding of their rights and form a strong commitment to civic processes. They find a channel to speak up and out on matters that affect them. They are more confident in standing up to peer or family pressure and are often able to negotiate out of harmful situations, such as unsafe sex, domestic violence and work instead of school.
More needs to be done to expand and consolidate the results of successful participation interventions, extending the right to more children and young people to help define and develop the future that is ultimately theirs.