While threats against civic space are well documented around the world, little is said on how civic space trends are being experienced by children, and how children’s rights and abilities to be active agents for change in their countries and communities are being affected. The report aims to fill that gap by bringing children’s voices to the debate, as well as those of concerned adult civil society activists. The report presents findings from a study conducted in 2016 combining online consultations and face-to-face group discussions with a total of 1,606 children, aged between eight and 17, from 60 countries, and from an online survey carried out with 488 respondents from adult-led civil society from 98 countries.
Among other findings, the research reveals that:
- The challenges faced by civil society in general are accentuated for children who seek to engage in civic action and influence public decision-making.
- Children have the right and the desire to be involved in decision-making, but their potential and ability to contribute to society is being obstructed in many countries.
- State and intergovernmental institutions must prioritise the creation of spaces and opportunities for children to participate in processes that make decisions on issues that affect them.
- Adult-led civil society should work to broker new connections between children and policy-makers, and help facilitate meaningful and ethical opportunities for children to participate.
The brief calls for policy-makers to support children’s civic rights, recognise the benefits of enabling children to exercise their civic rights and their right to participate, and act to unlock these benefits. Improved participation will ultimately lead to better informed and more effective policy.