Child and Youth Participation

1. Switzerland

| Children's Conference | Terre des Hommes Switzerland

The Children’s Conference is a new project that gives children the opportunity to learn about their rights and to give recommendations to political authorities in Switzerland. Over four days, children aged 10 – 12 who were elected by their peers, participated in the conference. The children came from different regions of French-speaking Switzerland and choose the rights that they wanted to work on. To do this, they identified problems and proposed solutions, which become recommendations.

The Children’s Conference was an opportunity for Terre des Hommes to position itself as a Swiss actor specialising in children’s rights and child participation. It also allowed us to respond to the recommendations addressed to Switzerland by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and to call on political leaders to improve the situation of children’s rights in Switzerland.

Learn more about the Children’s Conference.

At the beginning, I was stressed because I was going to speak in front of politicians but afterwards I felt confident… Thank you, now I know that I have rights that must be respected and that I must respect those of others.

A young participant, aged 10-12 years
City of Geneva |©Tdh_Suisse
City of Geneva | ©Tdh_Suisse

2. Switzerland

| World Congress on Justice with Children | Terre des Hommes Foundation in Lausanne

In 2021, together with our partners, we organised the world’s largest event dedicated to child justice with children, as leaders in the Global Initiative on Justice for Children. The collaboration included the fourth World Congress on Justice with Children, together with several UN agencies and regional and national authorities. Children in contact with justice systems (as victims, witnesses, or offenders) are among the most vulnerable and need their voices and experiences heard to make processes more child friendly.

With our support, a child and Youth Advisory Group were formed by ambitious girls, boys, and adolescents under 25 with knowledge and experience in child justice systems. They advocated for non-discrimination and promoted impartial and child friendly justice systems. More than 4,800 intergenerational participants from more than 100 countries attended the World Congress on Justice with Children, ensuring access to justice for all children: towards non-discriminatory and inclusive child justice systems.

 We want equal access to justice in a way that does not discriminate, to share our opinions and have our views taken seriously, to make decisions about our own lives and get support from adults when we need it.

Angela, from Romania, member of the Child and Youth Advisory Board

Learn more about the World Congress on Justice with children.

3. Colombia

| No more anger and helplessness | Terre des Hommes Switzerland

Our partner project, Paz y Bien, is committed to the peaceful coexistence in Colombia by working directly with young people for change. In 2021, many of our projects significantly increased political influence when the government announced a tax reform at the end of April 2021, which sparked a nationwide strike in Colombia. The proposed amendment would hit middle class citizens and the poorer population the hardest. Young people from Paz y Bien formed peaceful marches in their communities, rejecting the reform and the structural violence associated with them. They also organised awareness-raising events on non-violent activism and understanding in the neighbourhoods to strengthen their sense of solidarity and cohesion. Coupled with psychosocial support, these activities helped to strengthen the resilience of young people in crisis.

©Tdh_ Basel
©Tdh_ Basel

I used to have a lot of problems with myself and felt inadequate. I couldn’t talk to my parents, I didn’t trust them… With Paz y Bien I learned to recognise and name my feelings and needs. Today I can make decisions that benefit me and those around me. If we want peace in Colombia, we must start where we live. We have to start small and then grow so that we improve the whole community.

Hillary, Paz y Bein beneficiary

Learn more about our work on peace.

4. Global

| International Youth Network at Global Action Month | Terre des Hommes Switzerland

In November 2021, young people from our International Youth Network (IYN) campaigned for tolerance and diversity during the Global Action Month (GAM). To mark the occasion, young people from the IYN teamed up with young people from our two other projects, MePower and Imagine. On behalf of their peers from Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nicaragua and Switzerland, they had one clear message: violence against individuals and groups must stop. Their message reached around 4,500 young people in person and over 5,000 young people via social media.

It makes me really happy to work with so many other young people and to always meet new people from different countries.

Jeyani Thiyagaraja, originally from Sri Lanka

Jeyani received refugee status and now lives and studies in Basel. She is a member of the health commission in the first Swiss refugee parliament and is involved in the MePower project for young refugees. She coordinates the IYN and co-organized the Global Action Month2021 against violence.

Learn more about our projects in Switzerland.