This webinar was part of Eurochild’s breakfast webinars to mark World Children’s Day 2020. This webinar looked at the intersection between children’s rights and democracy. In particular, it explored the challenges faced in Bulgaria by the children’s rights movement and how the upcoming EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child can help governments to realise their commitment to child rights.
George Bogdanov, Director National Network for Children Bulgaria (Eurochild member) highlighted the unprecedented attack on children's rights in Bulgaria by extremist far-right and religious groups using fake news to spread fear among parents; and intimidating child rights activists which in itself is a threat to democracy. “The question is not only how to put the child at the heart of European recovery, but how to put the child at the heart of the European democracy,” Bogdanov said.
Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President on Democracy & Demography highlighted that child protection is a Member State competence, but the aim of the upcoming EU Strategy is to be taken on board by all member states, including Bulgaria, in their bid to bring about positive change. She then spoke about the importance of child participation in policy making: “The Commission’s work has already benefitted from the vision and ideas of 10.000 children who contributed to our consultation on our rights of the child strategy, and I want to thank Eurochild for its great work on this.”
Denitsa Sacheva, Minister of Labour & Social Policies, Bulgaria thanked the civil society in Bulgaria for their tireless work despite the precarious situation created by the forces campaigning against child rights in the last few years. She then highlighted progress made on the dialogue between parents’ organisations and the civil society to introduce the act on social services, fundamental for children and vulnerable groups.
Bruce Adamson, Chair of the European Network of Ombudsmen for Children reiterated how supporting civil society organisations with funding, education and broader public education, is key to ensure that human rights defenders are protected and they can protect children in return.
Baroness Massey, Member of the Parliamentary Assembly Sub-Committee on Children, Council of Europe; Member of the House of Lord (UK) joined the discussion by saying that much of the work on children is about child protection. Yet, to influence the future we need to involve children in our political systems and organisations not only just to give children a voice to speak out. But to also helps organisations, Parliaments, to gain insights which they may never have thought of.
Milena from the Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre, and a member of the Eurochild Children's Council explained that rights are all about recognition that young people are members of society whose voice has to be accepted. “We are not naïve or greedy. We want our voice to be heard and our rights respected because the decisions made today concern our future,” Milena concluded.