In an increasingly target-driven environment, how do you prove to NGOs, funders and policy makers that involving children in decisions that affect them not only fulfils their rights, but also leads to better – and measurable – outcomes for international development?
According to a consortium of INGOs including UNICEF, Save the Children, Plan International, World Vision, and the Child to Child Trust, child participation (the practice of including children’s opinions in decisions that affect their lives) has fallen out of view in mainstream development, and has even come to be seen by some as an esoteric specialism. For the well-being of children globally to improve, meaningful engagement of children needs to be main-streamed once more into development programmes and made a central premise around which progress is plotted.
A young girl makes her mark in support of Save the Children’s global campaign to prevent child mortality during child participation activities at her school. Photo credit Save the Children
Owing largely to changes in the funding environment, development organisations have in recent years tended to refocus on programmes that have measurable and demonstrable returns (on numbers of children vaccinated for example). Lacking, as it did, that ability to tangibly demonstrate impact, child participation was beginning to slip into the shadows of development work. In response to this, the Consortium had developed a new common framework for measuring impact child participation. Our advice was that if we could encourage the widest possible take-up of the framework, then crowdsource evidence of impact, we could prove to policy makers and funders that child participation could help them achieve their goals.
Through extensive global consultation and research, we developed a digital strategy centred around an online hub which will act as a meeting point for practitioners globally. The hub will both bring together an international community of practice, and establish a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation framework that will satisfy the need to demonstrate impact. The hub will also map the state of children’s right to participate around the world, which in turn will help NGOs make a better case for mainstreaming child participation practices in their own organisations, and into other sectors.
With the strategy complete, we now aim to launch the digital hub in 2014. The consortium has since commissioned Eden Stanley to develop a campaign strategy to launch the programme over the coming year.