This month, our newsletter will focus on participatory innovations that aim to engage children and teenagers in policymaking processes in Latin America. These new spaces seek to create a dialogue between governments and the youth, identify the needs of often vulnerable social groups, and improve their representation.
LATINNO at the Annual Meeting of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
On June 28th, LATINNO's coordinator Thamy Pogrebinschi, who was an Alexander von Humboldt’s Georg Forster Fellow between 2011 and 2013, gave an introductory talk at the Foundation’s annual meeting in Berlin. In her speech, she shared some of LATINNO’s data and results.
She pointed out how democratic innovations are a way to address social inequality and representation deficits while acknowledging the need to institutionalize these new practices and processes. Furthermore, she spoke about some of the potentials of participatory governance, which include increased trust in political institutions, enhanced transparency of governments, and the improvement in the delivery of public goods and services.
Social Policies for the Youth
The LATINNO project maintains in its database more than 2,500 cases of political experimentation across 18 countries in Latin America. Around 5% of these democratic innovations engage in policy issues that affect the youth, promoting the participation of young people and sometimes also children in policy processes that address them.
Mesa País: Intersectorial Commission on Prevention and Attention to Violence towards Children and Adolescents
The "Mesa País" was created to discuss and develop effective public policies that guarantee the good treatment of children and teenagers. It was coordinated by the National Secretariat for Children and Adolescents and had the participation of international and civil society organizations.
In the absence of an explicit and comprehensive regulation to protect children in Paraguay, the commission decided first to draft a bill, which was presented to the legislature in 2013 and adopted in 2016 (Law No. 5659). While promoting the bill in parliament; they also worked with other public institutions, citizens, and the media to raise awareness regarding violence against minors.
Hacéte Sentir (Make yourself heard)
Hacéte sentir is a digital space where young people and teenagers can actively participate in the decision-making processes of their local governments. This tool is an initiative of civil society organizations in conjunction with municipalities. On the digital platform, young people can make requests or proposals to improve their community, connect with other citizens, receive support for their ideas and share them through social networks. The collective solutions that have been agreed upon have addressed issues related to public transport, the service of garbage collection and others, such as bullying.
U-Report Mexicois a tool of social participation that aims to engage citizens, especially teenagers, in monitoring policies while connecting young people with governmental and international organizations such as UNICEF.
It uses a free text messaging (SMS) service to strengthen community development and citizen participation. Each week users receive messages on issues that have a direct impact on their lives—such as with human rights, climate change, youth unemployment, etc.—, record responses and generate a report with this information. Subsequently, this report is presented to the responsible authorities.
This digital innovation has been also implemented in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador and Guatemala.
"Peatoniños" is an initiative implemented with the aim of giving a response to the alarming number of children who have been victims of road accidents in the Metropolitan Area of Mexico City.
Rapid urban growth and a lack of public and green spaces have deeply affected the young population. Peatoniños counteracts these negative effects, ideating, organizing and implementing "playing roads" with the collaboration of citizens, university students, governmental institutions and CDMX's Lab for the City. These participatory spaces do not only function as pedagogical and preventive mechanisms but also seek to empower children and promote the right to the city. Moreover, Peatoniños aims to influence the policymaking process by engaging governmental actors.