The municipalities of Strängnäs and Dar es- Salaam have been working on a project that aims to increase the participation of young people in politics. Their partnership enabled new methods to be tested and applied for the younger generation to meet with local politicians and officials in the municipalities. This partnership shows how the Convention on the rights of the child can be implemented on a local level through international partnerships.
The partnership with Dar es-Salaam is one of several partnerships between Strängnäs and different local governments in Tanzania. This specific project was focused on the role of youths in politics. The participation of youth in politics in Sweden has become a higher priority since the Convention on the Rights of the Child became Swedish law on January 1st 2020. Helena Edvinsson, coordinator of the partnership, emphasizes the importance of including children and young people in the process of policy-making. She also highlights the importance of having local structures to include young people, and why Strängnäs aimed to develop these structures within a municipal partnership.
– “As a local ombudsman for the rights of children, I am very concerned with ensuring that children and young people can be part of democratic processes and get answers from politicians. We noticed, at our youth congresses in Strängnäs, that the challenge was that children rarely got answers on the spot. Politicians took the questions with them, but it stopped there. Through ICLD and our municipal partnership, we wanted to get better at meeting young people and engaging with the issues that are important to them.”Helena Edvinsson, Local ombudsman for the rights of children in Strängnäs.
Strängnäs municipality got new ideas and methods for the inclusion of children and young people through the project. Among other things, they wanted to create platforms for conversations between young people and politicians, where the issues that were on young people’s minds were setting the agenda. These new forms of meetings were aimed to give power to the youth over the topics of discussion, based on their interests and needs. The representatives and politicians that were to participate were then picked according to their ability to provide answers to those specific topics. Children and young people in Strängnäs could thereby get direct answers from the responsible actors.
The participation of youth in the political process is crucial for the development of democratic and inclusive societies. The meeting culture that they experienced in Tanzania inspired Strängnäs to try such new practices at home. It also provided the children that participated with an opportunity to learn from how youth participation works in other cultures. The municipality now plans to spread these practices further across Sweden by sharing their good results through a dissemination project.
Global solutions to local problems
All of Strängnäs partnerships in Tanzania have been reciprocal and aimed to generate results both in Sweden and Tanzania. For instance, the student council that was created at a school in the village of Emboreet in Tanzania provided an opportunity for committed young people to take a place in politics. This showcases how implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child through the municipal partnership programs leads to positive changes, both in Sweden and internationally. The partnership between Strängnäs and Dar es-Salaam on young people’s participation has led to more meaningful meetings between the younger generations and the politicians and officials in the municipalities.
Strängnäs got inspired during their visit to Tanzania, as new practices were taken home and applied in the municipality. What practices will you be inspired by in your partnership? Contact us at ICLD through firstname.lastname@example.org to declare interest from your municipality, county or region to participate in a municipal partnership.