Empowering Street Children Worldwide
To find out more about our support for global consultations with street-connected children and the way we are working collaboratively to make a difference - see this piece below from the Consortium for Street Children.
For the first time street children across the world have a unique chance to make their voices heard and influence governments.
Street children from over 25 countries are taking the lead in seven pioneering consultation events and their views will be reflected in the forthcoming UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment on Children in Street Situations.
Once published this guidance will help governments provide better support and services tailored to the needs of street children.
Consultations (including regional and multi-country events) organised by CSC, Baker McKenzie and local partners are taking place in: Brazil (with partners Street Child United and Merck), India (Plan India and Cargill), Belgium (Dynamo International and Salesforce), Mexico (REDIM and Regeneron), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Zimbabwe (all organised by Streetinvest) in March and April 2016. Children will be consulted on the questions contained in the official call for submissions published by the UN Committee.
In the past, many national programmes and plans to address street children’s rights have failed because they have not taken account of or responded to children’s needs. Including street children’s views in the guidance will help to ensure that governments’ responses to these children reflect their real lives and experiences.
Street-connected children – who may live or work on the street, or simply spend much of their time in public spaces – experience severe and ongoing violations of their rights. They are constantly exposed to violence from adults, the police and other street children. They experience extreme stigma and discrimination, and are often unable to access food, clean water, shelter, healthcare and basic services.
Perceived as a hard-to-reach group, street children are too often ignored by society and made invisible in policy agendas. This pioneering event will make the voices of this often resilient and resourceful group of young people heard at the highest level.
The guidance, which is being developed by the UN’s highest authority on children’s rights, will lay out governments’ obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child – the key piece of international law on children’s rights, which has been accepted by all countries in the world except the USA.
Sarah Thomas de Benitez, Consortium for Street Children CEO, said ‘’We believe street-connected children should have a full and proper say in shaping a better future for themselves, and Consortium for Street Children is committed to getting their voices heard at the highest levels. These consultation events are a unique opportunity for children who depend on the streets to be at the centre of developing ground-breaking international United Nations’ guidance that can revolutionise how governments across the globe protect, support and tailor services to the needs of children in street situations. Consortium for Street Children, as an organisation that consistently champions children’s rights, is incredibly proud to be making these transformatory consultations with children a reality.’’
Michael Wagner, Baker McKenzie’s chair of the Firm’s global pro bono committee, added: “Realizing children’s rights is an integral part of our pro bono strategy and we’re uniquely positioned to leverage our talent, resources and relationships to make a positive impact. Working collaboratively, we can help strengthen protections for those who need it most.”