UNICEF first launched the Child Friendly Cities initiative in Belarus in 2007. Since then, it has expanded widely around the country to bring an explicit child focus to the traditional, adult-oriented local governance system.
Twenty-five cities to date have joined the initiative including the capital, Minsk, as well as a few of the regional centres, such as Homiel and Brest, and others. Of these, 10 cities have already been granted honorable CFC status (Baranovichy, Brest, Minsk, Novogrudok, Novopolotsk, Pinsk, Polotsk, Pruzhany, Soligorsk and Zhodino). The population of the cities ranges from 30,000 to 1.4 million.
The objectives of the initiative are: 1) to create an enabling environment for child development; 2) promote inter-sectoral collaboration around child-related issues; and 3) enable meaningful participation of children and youth in decision-making processes. The initiative places particular emphasis on child and youth participation through youth councils and assessment measures.
A primary feature of the initiative is the “Child Friendliness Index” which has seven parameters that measure child well-being and development, including a unique measure for child participation in decision-making. The index not only serves as an assessment tool, but also as a mechanism to dedicate the efforts of the municipality around specific areas concerning children at the city level.
The CFCI Coordination Council, a body that includes officials from the National Assembly, Ministries of Health, Education, Labour, and Social Protection, Internal Affairs, and Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, local authorities, and UNICEF coordinates the CFCI in Belarus. The Council advocates for CFCI priorities, provides ongoing technical support and guidance, training and national leadership over the course of the programme and maintains the CFCI webpage.
To be formally recognized as child-friendly, a city must assess local conditions in partnership with children and youth, community members and other stakeholders and have sufficient baseline data and indicators. It must also have a City Action Plan that prioritizes child needs, which will be monitored using the Child Friendliness Index.
If the city shows significant improvement in the prioritized needs over a three-year period, it receives the honourable status of Child Friendly City, which promotes the city as a favourable place for children and families to live in. The award is given by the CFCI Coordination Council.
© UNICEF Belarus
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