SDG: 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
Children should be able to participate in decision-making processes that may be relevant in their lives, to give their opinion and to be listened to and have their ideas considered. Children who are silenced cannot challenge violence and abuse perpetrated against them and their capacity to learn is restricted without the chance to get information, pose questions, challenge and debate. Policy-makers cannot identify the barriers to fulfilling children’s rights if they do not hear from children about the existence and nature of those barriers.
Nerijus Buivydas opened a Democratic school to change the Lithuanian education system and aspire for an education system that takes into consideration the student's´needs and abilities, resulting in better quality in teaching and learning, and overall satisfaction.
Gülten Eminovski founded STOPMOB, a toolkit for children, teachers, and educators, as well as parents that provides practical training on how adults can work with children to help them become more aware of and build bridges between their thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
entrepreneurs in our portfolio work with different solutions to enable children to express their opinion, get access to information and participate in decision-making.
children and youth were supported to express their opinion, access information and/or participate in decision-making, through interventions carried out by Change Leaders in Denmark, Ghana, Lithuania and Sweden.
Strategic coaching helped Barnrättsbyrån scale with lower risk.
In Sweden, many unaccompanied minors that have turned 18 get their application for asylum rejected and must return to their home country. A return is almost always associated with a long and complicated process - often due to a lack of valid identification required for travel - but in spite of this Swedish law stipulates (since 2016) that the youth are not entitled to food or housing in the meantime. Put on the streets, they are left vulnerable to assault, disease and mental illness. Since regulations were changed in summer 2016, six unaccompanied minors have committed suicide. Change Leader Elin Wernquist runs Barnrättsbyrån, an independent children’s rights bureau that offers social and legal support to secure the rights of each child, and to make them feel listened to and taken seriously. The insights gained during the support processes are used as leverage in advocacy work aimed at changing government policy.
2016 was Barnrättsbyrån’s second year in the Incubator. Elin reflected “A lot happened in the past 12 months. Nevertheless I struggled with the feeling of not having done and achieved enough. When you are a start-up and begin at zero, you can always do better. This leads to a risk of taking on more than your organization is equipped to manage.” She continued: “We were close to hiring a fundraiser/marketer, someone to boost our communications and catalyze new opportunities. However, in strategic workshops with the local Reach for Change team we realised that we first needed someone to build our internal functions such as HR, finance and legal. Without this organizational backbone solidly in place before scaling, we would run the risk of weakened delivery and impact, and consequently damaged organizational credibility - this would be devastating for our advocacy efforts.” Elin elaborated on how the Incubator support made a difference: “Reach for Change’s tools for understanding social venture needs and tracking organizational development contributed a highly valuable ‘helicopter perspective’ and structure that helped me put the development of my organization in context and avoid pitfalls. This kind of support - on how to strengthen our organizational capabilities and become equipped to deliver sustainable impact - we do not get anywhere else.”
During 2016, Barnrättsbyrån supported more than twice as many children as in 2015 (an increase from 27 to 60), and registered more than 1005 supportive interactions* on their behalf (*phone calls or meetings with a child, or with an adult regarding a child). In spite of the fact that many of the children supported faced almost hopeless situations upon meeting with Barnrättsbyrån, 80 % of 25 survey respondents reported that their life improved after their support.
“Reach for Change’s tools for understanding social venture needs and tracking organizational development contributed a highly valuable ‘helicopter perspective’ and structure that helped me put the development of my organization in context and avoid pitfalls. This kind of support - on how to strengthen our organizational capabilities and become equipped to deliver sustainable impact - we do not get anywhere else.”
Arkan Asaad educated 2,355 Swedish youth about their right to not marry against their will. In 2009, the Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society conducted a study which found that more than 70 000 Swedish young people worry about not being allowed to choose their partner or who to marry.
Change Leader Arkan Asaad runs Right 2 Choose, where he educates young people about their rights; specifically about their right to choose their own life and to not have to enter a marriage against their will. Arkan has also published two novels that portray his relationship with his parents, and how they let Arkan know at the age of 19 that they had decided that he should marry his cousin. In collaboration with the Swedish police, Arkan has produced a 90 min lecture on DVD which is available to teachers and schools in order to educate children about their right to choose. During 2016, Arkan reached 2355 Swedish children and youth through lectures and workshops.
This story is told by Elin Wernquist, about a girl who Barnrättsbyrån supported during the year of 2016.
Emmy decided to call Barnrättsbyrån when her foster placement came to an end in February. She was placed in care after she ran away from home after years of mental abuse. We have supported Emmy in putting her feelings and experiences into words and communicating with social services. In order to continue the placement, social services needed the consent of her parents, and they had previously rejected any attempts. Emmy told us she felt her social worker did not believe how severe her experiences had been. The family has received different interventions, such as family therapy, but Emmy has found the therapist sides with her parents, leaving her feeling alone and hurt. So our first task was to really listen to Emmy and continuously tell her that what she has been through is not ok, and constitutes mental abuse. Emmy also told us she didn’t understand the decision to end her placement. In order to explore this we organised a meeting with social services, and her new social worker, taking time to explore the reasons behind this decision as well as the limitations of the law.
In collaboration with her new social worker, we went through the assessment together and drew up a new plan. We, together with Emmy will invite her parents to Barnrättsbyrån, with the aim of finding a mutual solution that works for Emmy. Emmy has said she now feels much more supported and that she can make sense of her situation.
In 2016, Barnrättsbyrån supported 42 children. Among 26 surveyed, 92 % reported that Barnrättsbyrån supported them in a manner that was easy to understand and 73 % felt that Barnrättsbyrån helped them gain a better understanding of their rights.
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