“Voice It: youthful opinion that matters” is the name of the forum, organized for the third consecutive year by the National Network for Children in partnership with the Youth Network “Megaphone” and with the support of UNICEF Bulgaria.
The event was held in Sofia’s Largo on November 20th. The occasion was the 28th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the World Children’s Day.
„Voice It“ aims to emphasize the importance of the principle of children’s right to opinion and participation. This is why the topic of this year forum was “What do children and young people think about the life in Bulgaria?”
The event gathered children, young people, professionals and organizations and gave them the opportunity to talk about children’s rights, discuss important for young people issues, meet interesting causes and create new contacts.
The guests of the forum were representatives of the institutions and many civic organizations. Among the official guests were Rositsa Dimitrova, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Denitsa Sacheva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, the Ombudsman Maya Manolova and members of her team -Eva Zhecheva, Director of Children’s Rights Directorate, Nurten Patraklu, Chief Expert in the same Directorate, UNICEF Representative for Bulgaria – Maria Jesus Conde, World Health Organization Representative for Bulgaria prof. Mihail Okoliyski, and many others.
A host of the stand, dedicated to the Ombudsman’s institution was Maya Manolova herself. “Children’s rights are being violated every day, and responsibility for this is ours and also the institutions are responsible for this” Mrs. Manolova said. “We have an unfinished cause – it is high time for the amendment of the Children’s Justice Act to enter the Parliament and it could be discussed in such an environment so that children can express their own opinion on the law”, Manolova explained. According to her words, we should also support the cause of Bulgarian schools abroad, which insist Bulgarian language to be included in the national education systems of the member states of the European Union.
The program of the Youth forum “Voice It” was divided in to two parts:
At first, children and young people took part in an open discussion on ten topics that were previously selected after an online consultation with young people. The discussions resulted in many key messages made by the young people that will be summarized and send to the relevant institutions, responsible for children’s well-being.
The second part of the event was an exhibition of organizations committed to the rights of children and young people who presented their activities.
At a separate stand was presented the project “Right(s) Court for Children”, in which the National Network for Children is partnering with another 5 European countries – Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Italy and the United Kingdom. The project, funded by the European Commission, aims to raise awareness among children and young people about their rights when tey are in contact with the judicial system. As a result of the project and with the participation of students, the online game “Story Lab” was created, through which children can extend their knowledge about the judicial system while playing.