Child participation provides opportunity for involvement, design and access to information, decision-making and capacity building. Structures such as families, communities, schools, religious institutions, ECD centers, children’s corners, youth clubs, children and youth parliaments, and children’s rights practitioners play a crucial role in developing the participation needed for children to feel empowered in society.
Malawi government recognizes that the level of child participation in Malawi is only at the level of consultation and minimal participation. Most often children’s views are sought through consultations, but not necessarily put into practice. Additionally, in consultations, very often younger children are not given the opportunity to participate, in spite of the acknowledgement that children of all ages have the right to be heard and be actively involved.
The Department with support from partners has been enhancing issues of child participation through children’s parliament at district level and youth parliament at national level. However, it is important to note that districts are at different levels in terms of implementing children’s parliaments and ensuring that matters and resolutions by children find their way to influence decisions at that level. We have noted that where there is a strong partner organization thing are working effectively as hosting these child fora requires funding which many districts do not have.
Looking ahead, the department intends to mobilize more partners at district level to support the implementation of children’s parliament and other child participation strategies and ensure that children play and integral part in the decision-making process especially on issues that affect them.