Child participation is not a duty but a right. Yes they might not vote but they have a voice that must and should be heard. This is in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child Article 12 states
1 States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. 2 For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.
Article 12 in summary requires state parties to give children an opportunity to air their views on things that affect. This is especially in the electioneering process, which affects them directly. Whatever leader will be elected is going to affect them more than it may affect the adults.
In participation, we don’t mean dancing or waving party flags during campaign rallies. Meaningful child participation means listening to children views and involving them in decision making. We therefor have indicated below on what areas children may be involved in the elections.
Development of Manifestos
The primaries will be coming to an end in the next few days, it will be time for aspirants to start finalizing their flowery manifestos. The Manifestos will have dream land kind of promises, most of which will be about children.
Our question is how were children involved in developing of this manifestos. Which one of the politicians sat down with children and asked them what they wanted in their ward, constituency, county and country, but did they assume what adult want is what children want.
A baseline survey is essential in ensuring that whatever intervention is in line with the needs of your beneficiaries, In business baseline helps in designing a product that will meet the needs of the end user and make profits. The sad bit about politics, children are never consulted in what they need. Politicians don’t have the time to ask children what they want.
We therefor recommend to all politicians from the Member of the County Assembly to the presidential aspirants to take time and consult children in what they want to see in Kenya in the next 5 years. let this recommendations be the basis of the manifestos.
The involvement of children will ensure that the real needs of children have been accounted for and avoid misuse of money by politicians in the name of helping children.
Voter apathy has been cited as the a major challenge in this elections, this obvious with the number of people who registered against those who were expected to vote. A notable thing about the 6 million new voters is that they were newly registered as citizens that is they had just got an Identity card.
Majority of this expected new registered voters were children in the last two election cycles. The reason for voter apathy has been noted to the feeling that nothing will change, corruption and tribalism.
From a child development and child rights, it is our opinion that the cause of voter apathy among the lower demography of voters is because they were not involved as children in the electioneering process. In a paper by Hellen Catt, Now or Never she says that child participation in the elections improves political efficacy.
Political efficacy is the feeling of that political and social change is possible, and that the individual citizen can play a part in bringing about this change. Dr. Catt argues that adults who were meaningful involved in elections as children are more likely to vote as adult and those not involved are more likely to develop voter apathy.
In Kenya the situation is made worse because most of the people going to vote in 2017 experienced the after maths of the 2007 elections, and the fear that happening again causes most of the young voters to opt out voting.
Hence we recommend to the IEBC and politicians to hold forums or campaigns to reassure voters who are fearful of post elections violence, in the campaigns they should involve children not as preachers of peace but also in dialogue sessions with the leaders and other children.
In addition civic education should not be limited to persons over the age of 18 years. It is important that training on good citizenship and importance of voting starts early. This will enable children know their civic duty at a young age. This will also help teenagers who are mostly targeted by politicians to cause violence be able to question the reason for violence.
In the next few months, numerous media houses and community groups will start holding debates for the different aspirants. However this debates do not give opportunity for children to ask questions or a special debate between the aspirants and the children.
We therefor recommend for a special political debate for children, by children. This will be an opportunity for children to hold politicians accountable on what they are promising of development truck.
The season of opinion polls has began. The assumption that children are apolitical causes most of this pollsters to by pass children without finding there opinion. A number of studies show that children as young as 7 years have a political opinion, and have a political ideologies.
Hence it is important for pollsters and politicians to try to find what is the opinion of children on politics and leaders. You know what they say about the mouth of babes. May be just may be a child voice is what we need to change our politics.
Check us next week for next article on “What is it in for children”
Save the Children- Kenya
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