Concept of for children by children policies: A review of Child Participatory Rights in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, the challenge of youth voicelessness is a pressing issue that affects more than half of the country’s young population. They often encounter obstacles like poverty, limited access to quality education, and cultural norms that marginalize them from essential decision-making processes. This lack of opportunities poses a significant barrier to youth engagement. While the government has cited various reasons for this issue, many believe it primarily results from a failure to address dissent and support the organized efforts of young people on critical issues. This situation not only hampers the ability of young individuals to mobilize and advocate for change but also leads to a decline in youth civic engagement.
Student’s taking part in changemaking & societal reform (In-Photo: Sadat Rahman)
However, on the global stage, there are countries such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, where young voices resonate more prominently in decision-making processes. In India, young people have been at the forefront of various social movements, including those against corruption and for women’s rights. Their influence is further amplified as more of them secure political office.
Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, underscores the significance of listening to these young voices. He highlights that children are the torchbearers of the future, and the world they inherit will be deeply influenced by the decisions we make today.
UN Child Policymaker, Jason
Even in South Africa, young individuals played a pivotal role in the anti-apartheid movement and continue to actively participate in civil society organizations, addressing pressing concerns such as poverty, unemployment, and HIV/AIDS.
Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, emphasizes the crucial role that young people play as leaders of tomorrow. He urges investment in their development, skills, and talents to empower them to shape a better world.
Brazil, too, showcases the potential of youth involvement, particularly in environmental protection and social justice. An increasing number of young Brazilians are stepping into political roles, contributing to the creation of progressive policies.
Coming back to Bangladesh, poverty emerges as another formidable barrier to youth participation. Many young individuals are forced to toil for long hours to support their families, leaving them with little time or energy for civic activities. Moreover, limited access to quality education further compounds the issue by hindering their ability to understand and engage with complex social and political matters.
Rena Kawasaki, a beacon of hope and the International Children Peace Prize winner in 2022, emphasizes the importance of recognizing young people as experts in their own lives. Her words serve as a reminder of the untapped potential within the youth, waiting to bring about positive change.
Rena Kawasaki, Laureate, International Children Peace Prize, 2022
Cultural norms in Bangladesh, which expect young people to be obedient and respectful to their elders, create a reluctance to voice their opinions on crucial matters. Discrimination based on factors like age, gender, and religion further complicates their struggle, making it difficult for young people to participate in decision-making processes and have their voices heard.
Child Parliament, Bangladesh plays an important role in child participation
In the grand tapestry of global society, it is evident that youth participation is not only possible but vital for creating a more inclusive and equitable world. Therefore, addressing the diverse barriers to youth participation in Bangladesh, encompassing the ban on student politics, poverty, limited access to quality education, cultural norms, and discrimination, becomes an essential step. Empowering young people and giving them the tools to shape their future and contribute meaningfully to their communities isn’t just a matter of justice, but an investment in a brighter and more inclusive future for all.
Child participation in policymaking is essential for ensuring that the rights of children are respected and protected. There are a number of challenges to child participation, but there are also many reasons to be hopeful about the future. With continued effort, we can create a world where all children have the opportunity to make their voices heard.
Student, Class Ten
St. Joseph Higher Secondary School