|Baaska and her grandmother at their home.|
©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/Enkhzul Altangerel
Baaska is a 17-year-old high school junior, studying at “Aviyas” school of Khuvsgul province. She lives with her grandmother and two younger siblings in Murun, Khuvsgul province, in northern Mongolia. They live together in a small ger (traditional Mongolian tent). Baaska’s parents are herders, and they live in Tuv province, in central Mongolia, where they have better pasture land for their livestock.
Since young age, Baaska has been an active member of various student clubs at her school, from “Mongolian Red Cross Society” to Girl Scout. As a result of her active involvement in child participation clubs, she was chosen as a member of Children’s Council of Khuvsgul province two years ago. The council is an advisory body to the local administration on child rights related matters.
One of the important events for the council is the annual children’s forum, where children discuss what they want to change in their community, and present the issues to the town authorities.
“In 2013, I took part in my first ever children’s forum, which was organised as part of UNICEF’s Child Friendly Community initiative. During the forum, we discussed many issues, one of which was a request from students from “Ireedui” secondary school. The school is located very far, and there was no public transportation to the school. Children had to walk a long distance to the school, in cold and in dark. It was very dangerous because stray dogs could attack children. Also children get sick easily because of cold weather. So we decided to raise the issue to town authorities” shared Baaska.
|Baaska believes that children can make real changes if they speak up.|
©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/Enkhzul Altangerel
Following children’s appeal, a purchase of a school bus was approved at the community meeting on planning for the Local Government Fund investments. With these funds, Murun town purchased two buses that became operational in 2014.
“Children are very happy because with the bus we can get to our school faster and safer! The bus is helping solve overcrowding issue as well. Now that there is a bus to “Ireedui”, children are transferring to “Ireedui”. We hope that there will be more buses like this in future!” she added.
Baaska believes that children can make real changes for them if they speak up.
“I think that children themselves can best identify issues facing them. In Khuvsgul, the children’s forum has become a tradition, so now children have a better chance than before to make their voices heard. Adults have become more attentive to our requests”.
Child Friendly Community strategy
Child Friendly Community (CFC) is a system of local governance, committed to fulfilling children’s rights. It is the embodiment of the at local level, which means children’s rights are reflected in policies, laws, programmes and budgets. In a child friendly community, children are active agents; their voices and opinions are taken into consideration and influence decision making processes.
Khuvsgul province aims to become child-friendly province by 2016, and is working step by step to achieve this goal. Every village and citizen is taking part to implement this program, and to make children’s issues a priority. Local authorities have been giving increased importance to children’s participation in decision making.
“With the launch of Child Friendly Governance Program in our province, we worked to make sure that children have a say in the decisions regarding their wellbeing. In order to do that, we organized annual children’s forums, as well as monthly events to hear children’s opinions and requests. Much has been achieved as a result, including new libraries, WASH facilities, transportation vehicles as well as life skills training for adolescents” explained Mr. Dashbayar Ch., head of Child and Family Development Department of Khuvsgul province.
"Ireedui" school students in front of the school bus.©UNICEF Mongolia/2016/Zoya Baduan
Moreover, as part of its strategy to become child-friendly province, Khuvsgul province have incorporated child friendly investment as core issue in local development policies.
“The local parliament issued a resolution on investing not less than 10 percent of Local Development Fund (LDF) for well-being of children. As a result, the LDF investment for children in Khuvsgul province reached 22.5 per cent in 2015 compared to 8.8 per cent in 2013” explains Mr. Tumurbaatar G., Head of Governor’s Office of Khuvsgul province.
UNICEF has been actively promoting child-focused governance, investment and integrated delivery of social services in Khuvsgul province since 2012.
“As a result of CFC Strategy, priority issues for children were integrated in Khuvsgul province’s mid-term development plan, and children’s councils were set-up in 18 out of 24 soums in Khuvsgul province to prioritize children’s issues in decision-making” remarks Mandal Urtnasan, Community Development Specialist at UNICEF Mongolia.
“The strategy helped increase investment for children as well, which means improvement in quality of and access to basic services, and safer and more supportive environment for children’s development” she explains.
“We hope that Khuvsgul aimag continues their strides to make their province a better place for children to live, by incorporating child friendly approaches and making children a priority in all their policies and decisions.”
Enkhzul Altangerel, Digital Communications Consultant at UNICEF Mongolia