Funded by Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission


By including participation rights in the CRC it is stated that independent of age, all citizens have the right to actively express their opinion and take part in decisions regarding all aspects of their lives. The UN Children’s Rights Committee’s, the European Commission’s EU Agenda for the Rights of the Child and the Council of Europe’s strategy for Building a Europe for and with Children, as well as the 2012 Recommendation on the Participation of Children and Young People Under the Age of 18 developed directives on how to encourage and empower children to participate. For many children in European societies there is a growing pool of opportunities not only to take part in education, health care, entertainment, sports and culture, but also to become actors who influence such settings (C. Davey, 2010). The level of participation of children and youth varies along countries and along social and minority status, not all having equal chances to participate (Eurochild Annual Conference background paper, 2013; Lansdown, 2011). According to the Youth Report 2013 data, youth who are most likely not to participate in any organizational form come from Cyprus (67%), Lithuania and Hungary (both 63%), followed by Romania (60%) (Flash Eurobarometer 2013, p.10). Children coming from low social economic status families and ethnic minorities, especially Roma, have a much lower level of participation. Although progress has been made in some countries, Roma and traveller children and youth are mostly overlooked, due not only to their age, but also to their social economic status and ethnic prejudices (M. Schuurman, 2012; C. Sykora, 2012). In countries like Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania, Roma children cumulate social disadvantages that largely reduce their chances to influence processes, decisions and activities that affect them. Following the Youth Participation in Development Guide (DFID-CSO Youth Working 2010) one basis of our concept is the three lens approach to youth participation: in order for services to work with children as beneficiaries, workers have to engage with them as partners and support youth to become leaders.