Children’s role in policy decisions emphasised at ASEAN meeting
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
THE Brunei Council on Social Welfare (MKM) recently participated in the Preparatory Meeting for the Baseline Study on the Status of Child Participation in the ASEAN and Member States in Manila.
In a press statement, MKM said that the outcome of the study would enable ASEAN member countries, including Brunei, to strategically advocate for improved policies and programmes at the national level as well as for a regional framework supportive of child participation.
It would also help in the design of capacity building initiatives for civil society organisations (CSOs) which support child-led groups and children’s organisations on child rights advocacy, it said.
The preparatory meeting consisted of two sessions: one for adults including ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) representatives, policymakers from each ASEAN member country and civil society members, and a children’s session which was attended by 19 children from ASEAN member states.
During the meeting, ACWC representatives, policymakers and members of the civil society were consulted on the draft research design of the baseline study, with participating child representatives’ inputs taken into consideration. Present to attend the meeting on MKM’s behalf were Executive Members Dr Hjh Fatimah Hj Awg Chuchu and Norizan Hj Mohd Yamin, and Young Members Hasya Zulaikha Hj Awg Hasbollah and Syazwani Zuhairah Mohd Khiruddin, aged 13 and 15 respectively.
Syazwani said that child participation was “very important because children’s opinions and views also matter” while Hasya said that she was excited to learn from children of other ASEAN member countries and children in Brunei could help each other in promoting their rights to participate in matters that would have an impact in their lives.
MKM in its statement said that meeting participants believed that children’s participation in decision-making – practised in a manner that is free from pressure and manipulation and which is consistent with the child’s age and maturity – is crucial to the realisation of other children’s rights.
“Enabling and ensuring meaningful child participation in decision-making in the present set up requires concerted efforts from parents, communities, schools, civil societies and the government,” it said.
The Brunei Times