This new briefing from the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research on Families and Relationships addresses how children and young people’s participation in decision-making at the community level can be meaningfully supported by NGOs, using research findings from Tamil Nadu (in South India) and Scotland. Key findings are:
- Children and young people’s participation often results in their views being heard, but not taken account of or acted on in decision-making processes.
- Decision-making processes in local communities should involve children and young people directly. To make this happen, facilitators (staff members from non-governmental organisations) can support more meaningful dialogue between adult decision-makers and children and young people.
- The three-point relationship between children and young people, facilitators and adults in power can be used to strengthen bottom-up processes for children and young people’s participation. These relationships should take account of diversity amongst adults and social hierarchies.
- Adult in power (decision-makers) should be involved from the beginning of the process when implementing participation projects.
- To effect meaningful change in matters that affect them, children and young people’s participation should be embedded within existing adult decision-making mechanisms.
- As part of the participation process, facilitators should advocate for the adaptation of existing decision-making mechanisms to accommodate children and young people’s meaningful involvement.