Municipalism and rights of children and adolescents



Municipalism is the doctrine that postulates local organization as the principle of sustainable development, since it is not based on centralized power but on coexistence between its citizens as an engine of change. That is why when we talk about municipalism of the rights of children and adolescents we are talking about how we can ensure that the rights of children and adolescents are truly fulfilled and respected in each of the municipalities and their communities. Although there are several laws that establish what these rights are, mechanisms and practices need to be developed at the local level that allow them to be effectively fulfilled. It is not enough for rights to exist in the abstract, it is necessary that they materialize in concrete actions. Next, we will share three key actions that can help achieve the municipalization of the rights of children and adolescents.

Understand and care for children and adolescents from their context

To make the rights of children and adolescents a reality, we must first know the reality in which they and their families live. It is necessary to know what are the characteristics of childhood and adolescence in our municipalities, to know what are their social, economic, cultural, religious, historical and geographical conditions – among others -. Although all children and adolescents have the same rights, the conditions to fulfill these rights are not the same for everyone. In each municipality and community there are beliefs, attitudes and practices that facilitate or hinder the fulfillment of the rights of children and adolescents, so we must know them in order to propose and carry out the most pertinent actions.

Municipalizing rights is leading people to action

To achieve real fulfillment of the rights of children and adolescents in our municipalities, it is not only enough to talk about how bad or good children and adolescents are or about how much or little their rights are fulfilled. It is necessary to achieve commitments that translate into concrete actions on the part of the people who are in charge of State institutions and civil society organizations. It also means creating a culture at the local level where rights are known and respected, where municipal authorities, community authorities and neighbors in general, act to fulfill them through their participation in organizational forms such as networks, commissions and committees that exchange, debate, study and work to protect children and adolescents. Create a municipal culture in which each proposed project affects or benefits children and adolescents.

Municipalizing rights is generating structures of protection and participation for girls, boys and adolescents together. This means facilitating the participation of children and adolescents within the same daily environments where they should be protected, such as the family, school, community or municipality. Firstly, it is proposed to generate the conditions to promote the effective participation of children and adolescents. In this sense, it is necessary to develop actions that contribute to strengthening the security, competencies and citizenship skills of children and adolescents. At the same time, it is necessary to work with adults to recognize children and adolescents as subjects of rights; listen to what girls, boys and adolescents think, feel and want and take their opinions into account in all decisions that affect them.

It is important that children and adolescents have skills to recognize and avoid risk situations, organize and generate demand for respect for their rights and adopt self-protection behaviors and put an end to cycles of violence. Furthermore, when girls, boys and adolescents know their rights and reflect on their situation, it can promote change in their environment.

Fredy Pastor is consultant in Human Rights, Public Policies and Popular Education. Student of Legal and Social Sciences.