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-eight cities to date have joined the initiative including the capital, Minsk, as well as 4 regional centres, such as Homiel, Brest, Hrodna, and Mahilyow. 16 cities are candidates in joining the initiative. Of the cities that have joined the initiative, 24 cities have already been granted honorable CFC status (Baranavichy, Barysau, Brest, Dobrush, Homiel, Horki, Hrodna, Kastsyukovichy, Lida, Mahilyow, Maladzechna, Mazyr, Minsk, Navagrudak, Navapolatsk, Orsha, Pinsk, Polatsk, Pruzhany, Salihorsk, Shklow, Slutsk, Vawkavysk and Zhodzina). The population of the cities ranges from 15,000 to 1.8 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 children and adolescents’ parliaments/councils and a monitoring and assessment tool.
A primary feature of the initiative is the “Child Friendliness Index” which has eight 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.
In 2018 Child Friendly Cities Initiate was recognized as an effective tool for the localization of the Sustainable Development Goals and was rebranded as the Child and Adolescents Friendly City Platform (CAFC Platform) with adolescents at the core of all the interventions. This platform provides the opportunity not only to prioritize child rights at the local level but also to integrate key global strategies such as SDGs, GenU and the UN Youth Strategy 2030 into local government action.
The CAFC Coordination Council coordinates the CAFC in Belarus. It is a body that includes officials from the National Assembly, Ministries of Health, Education, Labour and Social Protection, and Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, local authorities and UNICEF. The Coordination Council advocates for CAFC priorities, provides ongoing technical support and guidance, training, and national leadership over the course of the programme and maintains the CAFC webpage.
To be formally recognized as child and adolescent -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 status of Child and Adolescent Friendly City, which promotes the city as a favorable place for children and families to live in. The certificate is given by the CAFC Coordination Council.
© UNICEF Belarus
Pop. under 18: 1,744,000
Honorable CFC Status: