“If you don’t do it well before a crisis, then you don’t stand a chance”
3 apr 2023
"By demonstrating examples, we can inspire change." That was the conclusion from one of the participants when the report Child and youth participation during crisis was presented to the experts who contributed to outlining its recommendations.
The report Child and youth participation during crisis is Nordic Welfare Centres latest publication, containing 34 recommendations and 9 promising examples for decision makers.
A year-long process
The process to land on the 34 recommendations started more than a year ago, with focus groups consisting of youth and adult experts meeting digitally.
This participatory process culminated in the Nordic Youth Summit held in October last year, when more than 100 youth and adult experts met personally in Oslo. The knowledge on child and youth participation was shared in workshops where the arguments took shape and were written down on post-its.
Tove Kjellander and Lisa Sjöblom then compiled everything into the extensive report Child and youth participation during crisis.
Benefits of involving youth
Last week the youth and adult experts were invited to discuss the result of their work, and give their input on the next step during an online seminar with workshops.
– It is also important to really emphasise the benefits of involving youth, said one of the participants during the dialogue meeting.
Insights from children and youth add information necessary to make better decisions, when it matters the most.
Decision makers have power
The pandemic showed that decision makers in the Nordic region were not prepared to protect children’s rights in a crisis.
– We see a lot of room for improvement. All decision makers in a process need to have knowledge about child and youth participation. They also need to cultivate their awareness of their position of power, said Tove Kjellander.
– In times of crisis it’s important to compensate for the vulnerability of children and youth, especially since children and youth are hit the hardest in crisis. This was stressed by the representatives of disability organisations, said Lisa Sjöblom.
Build before the crisis
One of the points highlighted several times during the dialogue meeting was the need to build the structures before the crisis hits.
– One of the most important learnings is what Christine Ravn Lund from the Danish Youth Council says in the report, “If you don’t do it well before the crisis, then you don’t stand a chance”, said Lisa Sjöblom.
Help build confidence
Apart from following the 34 recommendations what else can decision makers do to involve youth?
– The job of decision makers is to create possibilities for youth to lead their own processes, said Tove Kjellander.
– It’s important to have the confidence to speak up. The first time a youth contacts a politician it might not be with the most feasible suggestion. It is still important that the politician replies «Thank you for getting in contact!». That’s important for the future, says Lisa Sjöblom.
Join our upcoming webinar
– We hope that the report will be read and spread to decision makers throughout the Nordic region, said Tove Kjellander.
The report will be publicly launched and discussed in our upcoming webinar, Nordic youth – voices on wellbeing, on the 27:th of April, together with three other publications on the same theme. Among those the research report Children and Young People’s Participation During the Corona Pandemic – Nordic Initiatives.
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