“We are here today to prepare ourselves through activities to identify our problems and share them with the government, so they can bring us a better future,” said Vera, a 15 year’s old. Hussein, a 12 years old added, “It is important for us, as children, to talk about our problems, and I am here today to demand my rights”.
The children and young people spoke with a maturity that often belied their ages. Empowered by the freedom to learn from UNICEF moderators, and invited to speak freely about real-life issues, the individual statements addressed the collective emotions, with one announcing: “This is the first time we as children coordinate, design and organize such activities”.
Far from purely representing their own thoughts, delegates attended in representation of their peers – similarly-minded children at school, within their families, and friends. While protecting the privacy of the delegates, issues were divided across two categories – the first dealing with personal concerns relating to the individual’s life experiences, and the second looked at wider issues of the society.