Children throughout the world continue to grapple with unprecedented hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that turned the worldupside down in 2020. The global health crisis prompted lockdown efforts that raised the risk of violence, hunger, child labor, child marriage, and school dropouts—particularly among girls. It also curtailed opportunities for children to engage in activities aimed at promoting their right to be heard.
What the virus did not destroy, however, was children’s resolve to find and use their voices, to mobilize peers as a force for change, and to raise awareness of the critical importance of learning from children’s experiences.
Over many months in 2020, Joining Forces partners, led by ChildFund Alliance, consulted with children from around the world for the group’s fifth policy brief, Children’s Right to be Heard: We’re Talking, Are you Listening? The brief explores how societal norms, insufficient resources, and a lack of support from adults can inhibit children’s meaningful participation—particularly in the wake of a global pandemic. In addition, the brief outlines key takeaways from children on how their participation can lead to outcomes that are more meaningful and impactful for them and society as a whole.
In contributing to this brief, children from around the world had the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences orally, in writing, and during an online forum held on Universal Children’s Day. With their guidance and counsel, Joining Forces calls on all relevant actors to recognize and support key actions to ensure children’s rights are respected and achieved worldwide.