Investing on Child Rights for Participation

Swarnalakshmi, 13, a visually challenged girl, won thunderous applause when she made an intervention at the main event on March 8, 2013 to mark the Women’s Day at UN headquarters, New York. The theme was violence against women and girls. She introduced herself as the State child prime minister of the Tamilnadu-Pondicherry State Parliament of Children and  explained how through their parliaments they came to know, for example, the case of a girl forced to get married at the age of 15, discussed about it as a violation of rights and violence, made interventions and eventually stopped the marriage.


Muthu Selva Ganesh, 19, at a parallel event during the week introduced himself as the former State child prime minister of the same State parliament children, and recounted  how he began his governance-participation involvement at a neighbourhood parliament of children and how he got elected to the various levels the federation of these neighbourhood parliaments and ultimately became the State prime minister, and how this type of governance participation at various territorial levels helped him to grow. 

Both Swarna Lakshmi and Muthu Selva Ganesh and a host of other children, were products of the resource allocation for child rights by UN agencies like UNICEF, various INGOs and, in some cases, the government.

In the State of Kerala for example, with the push by UNICEF, the State government allocated resources for neighbourhoodization, by way of establishing a structural framework for participation, especially of women, resulting in nearly 2,58,000 neighbourhood forums, federated the level of the area and local governance institution. Against this background they have also nearly 52,127 children’s neighbourhood forums.


Investing for child rights should also be in terms of building structures for child participation.


Participation is one of the core rights of the child and participation presupposes forums for participation and a structural framework for participation.


And the forums have to be available to not just a few children on a token basis, but to all children.

An important aspect of child participation is participation in governance.


The best way to ensure a structural provision to enable children for governance-participation is getting them organized on neighbourhood basis and federated at various governance levels.


Hence the concept of territorially organized neighbourhood parliaments of children and their multi-tier federations.

A defined neighbourhood of about 30 families gives the children a territory to be responsible and accountable for and to be challenged about. The children, as a parliament,   take responsibility for this “mini-nation” of theirs. They elect various ministers to respond to its various concerns.


By responding to the concerns of their respective geographical territories, they grow as proactive citizens, and articulate and effective leaders.

The child parliamentarians have such a lot of success stories of their governance interventions which boost their confidence and make them celebrate their sense of worth.

In some places such neighbourhood parliaments of children are established through schools. Once a fortnight, children in schools meet in the campus, in neighbourhood units of about thirty children of various classes, and discuss about the problems and challenges of the neighbourhood and try to respond them. The last period or so of every other week is set aside for these neighbourhood parliaments of children. The last period in the intervening week is for theme-based meetings for the child ministers of various departments like health, child rights, environment, sports, gender sensitivity, disability concerns, cultural activities etc. The child ministers from the various neighbourhood parliaments of children come together in these theme based meetings to focus on the challenges and needs related to their particular portfolios. The existing organizations in the schools like Junior Red Cross, Red Ribbons, Green Army, Scouts etc are integrated with this theme based minister’s meetings, giving both the concerns a wider reach and the parliaments wider information and challenges.


Such activities need to be backed through adequate animation and orientation with the required resource allotments for the same.

Contact Information

8A/ 1A Arul Nagar,

Paalpannai Road,


Kanyakumari District,

Tamilnadu, India.

Phone: +91 4652 278223
Mob: +91 94426 48224
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