Young People and Their Rights: the CRC in Manchester

By Guest Blogger: Mariam Waseem

I was lucky enough to be a peer facilitator at BIHR’s ‘Human Rights Here and Now’ event in Manchester this August. The event was extremely informative and focused on educating young people about the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); what it entails, why we have one, who is involved in its creation/implementation and how we young people can get our voices heard.

First, we went through the history of human rights and learned about past events that led up to the creation of the CRC. We then looked at what the CRC is, who it effects and how the CRC is protected. It was particularly interesting to learn some schools have signed up to follow the CRC.

Next, groups discussed human rights in general. We did this by categorising the stages of youth into baby, toddler, child and teenager. For each phase of life young people brainstormed and discussed what rights are required at different times in your life. We found the rights of a baby were much more basic than the rights of a teenager but still crucial and fundamental, and those that applied at a young age stayed with them throughout the life of a child, for example the right to a family or clean water. We then looked at the rights in the CRC in more depth and the young people got a good idea of what the CRC actually entails.

The next activity focused on the key players involved in the implementation and scrutiny of the CRC. The facilitators played the role of different key players in the process, such as charities or the government, to raise awareness of the CRC examination process within the UK. Once we had a much better understanding of the CRC, groups examined the rights and prepared a presentation on a theme they believed needed tackling, such as education, participation or non-discrimination. They then presented these to a mock committee. This was my favourite part of the event; it was fantastic seeing so many inspiring ideas presented by passionate young people.

Lastly, we discussed youth participation locally, regionally and nationally and were informed about what currently exists (e.g. the BYC and UK Youth Parliament). We also discussed what people thought were the barriers to getting involved and what else may be needed to encourage young people to be active citizens. This touched on the influence young people should/could have on key decision makers.

I think it’s important for organisations like the BIHR to host events like this, as educating young people on their rights enables them to be able to go about their daily life more prepared and equipped. I know a lot of useful information now and I hope to pass on what I have learnt and encourage other young people to research the CRC and gain a better understanding of what is out there to protect them.

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