Workshop 3: Children and civic action

Civic Action27 Jul 2009The Broker

Author: Jill van der Vlugt, Chair: Marieke Sterenborg

Case 1: International Child Support (ICS) Kenya/Cambodia: Are duty bearers driving change for children’s rights?

Presenter: Maaike Stolte

The ICS programme aims to include the voices children and young people, and further the development of children’s rights and of quality education. The programme is implemented with partner organizations and field officers. ICS is based on the belief that society is continually influenced by people’s beliefs, interests, desires and aspirations. The approach is holistic, and the process includes health, HIV/AIDS, protection of livelihoods with norms, values and rights.CDC angle:

  • including citizens in the development process
  • open-ended; impossible to predict outcomes beforehand
  • complexity of reality
  • includes citizens as co-creators: the process ‘starts where people are’.

The role of ICS is to organise and facilitate meetings bring together groups to exchange ideas, learn and co-create. When necessary, ICS takes the role of teacher or technical advisor to inform people about the possibilities. ICS also facilitates access to resources.

Cases selected: Cambodia and Kenya

  • examples of where schools are based
  • with a different structure
  • in this structure duty bearers at different levels are included in the school
  • a special place in the organization to hear the voices of children and young people
  • a civil social infrastructure already exists

Case 2: Plan-Nepal: Child civic driven change

Presenter: Ismcne Stalpers


  • to establish children’s rights
  • to make it more difficult for Maoist rebels and government representatives to enter schools to recruit children
  • to prevent recruitment of children for armies.
  • to include children’s rights in the constitution
  • to make laws and codes of conduct
  • to prevent recruiters entering certain areas, such as peace zones.


  • campaigning
  • bringing together organizations and factions
  • establishing laws and codes of practice
  • introducing respected third parties that can:- accelerate this process- facilitate high-level negotiations- help in resource planning – target communication – establish broad partnerships among diverse stakeholders.
  • Focusing on working children is not enough: needs to be centred on the working community

CDC angle:

  • focus on children as actors in the process by organizing a children’s assembly to guide relations between progressive Nepal and the children.


  • supporting this process
  • plan fulfils the roles described above
  • establish attention to the problem
  • draw up a budget
  • works together with CWIN and has the same vision: – helping to build a national and international child rights movement to eliminate all forms of abuse exploitation and injustice against children, through advocacy, emergency action, social mobilization, alliance building and solidarity in action- promoting the conception of partnership, participation, empowerment and rights-based approaches outside and within the organization.

Nepal has been selected as case study because the process has been very successful there.

Discussion (mainly questions):

  • What role has the organization played: how to combine conflict, goals and working together under extreme circumstances?
    – a complementary role to grassroots organizations
  • When your goal is so broad, how do you add focus in the process?
    – focus on a geographical area
    – focus certain sponsor organizations
    – focus on working with children
  • At the implementation level, organizations are looking for an established infrastructure, and so they co-create with groups that are already reasonably well organised
  • How do you make sure that all minorities are represented?
    – searching for representatives of groups that meet certain criteria
    – focusing on established groups
    – focusing on children
    – research on minorities
    – special attention is given to background, family and neighbourhoods
  • How do you ensure that all children are involved?
    – looking at groups with certain characteristics
  • How does one recruit duty-bearers?
    – campaigning
    – explaining the aim, goal and purpose
    – making clear it is free for everyone to engage
    – actively asked to engage
  • How do you keep qualified teachers in your school?
    – supporting teacher accommodation
    – lobbying politicians so they are not transferred
    – let them establish relationships within the community
  • How do you ensure that children participate freely?
    – by grouping them together
    – by not letting them discuss with adults
    – by speaking freely
    – the organization ensures that their viewpoints are taken into account
    – by attaching the same weight to the viewpoints of adults and children

Lessons learned

CDC is:

  • co-creating rather than implementing structures and programmes
  • the only role is to broaden the view of locals, complement them, show them other possible options
  • working smaller; locally and grassroots and working bigger; holistic and multi-level
  • process rather than programmes
  • more radical: broadening view of actors and civic agents, like children
  • framework for participation
  • provides an opening for addressing how children’s rights should be looked upon and how this should be implemented
  • sensitive to local norms and values
  • process is part of the result

Future development of CDC

  • Balance between local values and the goals. How can we ensure that children’s rights are important? This is the balance between local CDC and conservative aided change. There must also be co-creation between these two theories of peace building
  • Targeted at making people realize what is possible. This is often outsider information, but should not be imposed on people by programmes
  • How can we involve and/or represent more marginal groups?
  • Context sensitive
  • Focus on follow-up processes and long-term monitoring because CDC is a long-term and open-ended process, but donors also need specific information on progress
  • Modest role in the process: – giving examples, definitions- open up discussion- organizing- discussing- opening communication- opening/providing information resources- creating space for discussions