UNICEF Portugal presents results of the national consultation “I have a vote in the matter” – United Nations
* by UNICEF Portugal
More than 9,000 participations by children, between 6 and 18 years old, confirm the interest and opportunity that exists in involving young people in reflection and discussion of topics that directly concern them. Mental health, discrimination, internet and social media are at the top of the main concerns of the children and young people surveyed.
The results of this national consultation, validated by the Catholic University, will be reached in an event that will bring together children and young people and mayors from various parts of the country, as part of the Universal Day for the Rights of the Child, which is celebrated on 20 November.
9,306 children and young people from all districts of the country, between the ages of 6 and 18, responded to the national consultation “I have a vote in the matter”, Promoted by UNICEF Portugal with the aim of collecting contributions from children and young people across the country about what they think and want for their communities.
In addition to an unprecedented high number of responses to the online survey, 60 discussion classes were also organized, organized by local association schools, in which 903 children and young people participated.
The results, validated by the Catholic University’s Center for Studies and Opinion Polls, demonstrate that, despite not having the right to vote, children and young people are available to get involved. Among all those consulted, 75.30% expressed that they never or will give their opinion when adults make decisions about the community in which they live, and 80% consider that their opinion has never or been taken into account, if or when they did. However, 38% of children and young people surveyed revealed that sometimes the Mayor, Parish Council and their teams think about children and young people when they make decisions.
Mental health (20.8%), discrimination (16%), the internet and social networks (11.6%) appear in the results as the three main concerns of children and young people.
In the occurrences of discussion, children and young people also shared that they are concerned about housing conditions, basic sanitation, access to health, in particular for the elderly population, as well as the lack of social and economic support for families in situations of greater vulnerability. The existence of leisure and sport spaces, the management of transport spaces, mobility and accessibility were other challenges identified by children and young people within their communities.
Beatriz Imperatori, Executive Director of UNICEF Portugal, says that “As around 10,000 children and young people, from the north to the south of the country, have joined the initiative I have a vote in an unworthy matter, want to participate and share their ideas and opinions, when opportunities are induced and the conditions for its effective. Children and young people have specific concerns that incorporate seeing resolved and would like to be heard in the construction of solutions for the development of the communities in which they live and grow and that their proposals are taken into account. It is our expectation that the presentation of these results will increase the willingness of those elected to listen and consider the opinion that, despite not being able to vote, have opinions and ideas about solutions that can contribute to a better quality of life and well-being in communities. ”
The current moment of constitution of the new municipal executives is an opportunity to, on the occasion of the Universal Day for the Rights of the Child, which is marked on November 20, municipalities to mark and reinforce their commitment to children and young people and to the fundamental pillar of Convention on the Rights of the Child which is a “Participation”.
Contributions were collected through an online survey and discussion discussion, from the north to the south of the country, in collaboration with UNICEF’s Network of Friendly Cities, schools, local associations and other partners. With a view to supporting the project founded, UNICEF Portugal made available a guide with materials on active citizenship, democracy, participation and children’s rights.
UNICEF Portugal will continue to work with the State, in particular with municipalities, to involve children and young people in decision-making on local policies, creating opportunities – through formal and non-formal education – so that children can see developing and putting into practice values of freedom, democracy, citizenship and respect, as well as developing critical thinking and becoming responsible and active citizens in society.