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The Children Parliament

Introduction

 The Children Parliament was established in 1997 in order to spread the discipline of the democracy among the children in the Kingdom. The Children Parliamne provides  Jordan's children all over the Kingdom with the opportunity to participate in open discussions, express their ideas freely, exchange views with children from all different social backgrounds and  addresse their problems. It aims to teach children to respect the other views and generate tolerance for the differences without any prejudices thorough meeting and dialogue with children form the different social background. The participants of the conference are children of 12- 18 years old from the public, private and UNRWA schools in Jordan, taking into consideration the percentage of population statistics. The participants consist of 50% females, 50% males, and 3% special cases and needs. This democratic environment of the parliament will give confidence for female children to discuss their view freely and it aims to contribute to change the current situation of the Jordanian parliament which dominated by male, to the one which more mixed by two sexes without any discrimination based on gender.

 

Background

The Committee on Children's Rights was established in 1994 and set itself aims such as spreading children's rights and protecting them according to the International Convention on Children's Rights. The committee is documenting and collecting photos and cases of children's rights violations. It is also conducting studies and researches and collecting data on children and providing different forms of support and protection such as legal, social, health and psychological support. The committee especially focuses on  female children as it concerns about the fact that female children tend to be disadvantaged from the education, family raising and school environment.

 

The Committee has conducted many activities and programmes in this respect and is keen to let children participate in many different projects. The committee has many other programmes and services aiming at achieving the goals set. These goals are as followings:

  

      1.The establishment of a children parliament

2. Activating the Jordanian NGO's networking for children's rights,

3. Strengthening ties with related parties

4.  Implementing practical methods for communicating with children and those who are dealing with them in different area such as the family, the school, the media, the cultural and leisure centers, judges, members of the general security, doctors and others.

The committee is made up of active members of the Union, specialized in different disciplines such as education, social studies, psychiatry, law, human rights, health specialization and housework.

 

Jordan's Children Conference 1996

 

 During the period 10-13/4/1996, the Jordanian Women Union held a conference in Jordan with the participation of 700 male and female children all over the Kingdom. In preparation for the conference, four preparatory conferences were held in Zarqa, Irbid, Madaba and Baqa' camp. During the four days of the conference, children discussed the International Convention on Children's Rights issued by the United Nations, and the Jordan's Children Law prepared by the Ministry of Social Development, and the extent to which this law conforms with the International Convention on children's Rights.

The children commented on the children's rights law and formulated their recommendations on it. At the end of the conference a committee was formed by the children themselves and follow up committees were also formed in different cities of Jordan in order to translate their recommendations into action. A children's club was eastablished in Baqa' camp in order to respond to the camp's need for children's activities.

Jordan's children Conference 1997

 

 In adhering to the recommendations of Jordan's Children conference of 1996, the executive committee in the Union decided to conduct another conference in April 1997. The Union's Committee on Children's Rights formed a follow up committee during the conference. This committee conducts periodic meetings for children, in addition to follow up meetings in the districts. Many seminars and meetings were held in order to discuss the suggestions, recommendations and the process.

 Upon the conclusions reached a workshop was held for two days with procedures needed to actualize democratic elected student councils within schools. Students were asked to form school committees to work on the formation of student council. Some of the schools have already implemented these recommendations while others have not yet. The Union has also organized periodic meetings as a preparation for the children's parliament.

Jordanian Women's union held the second Jordan's children Conference in 1997 in cooperation with UNCIF. During the second Conference, Jordan's Children Parliament was established with the slogan Jordanian children and Democracy- how to be democratic rather than how to talk about democracy. The Union held 12 preparing conferences in 12 Municipalities in Jordan for children with cooperation of Ministry of Education. Children from various schools around the Kingdom attended the conference. Through the conference the children discussed the following topics:

1- Children and War

2-Children and Poverty

3-Children and Environment

4-Discrimination between Two Sexes

5-Children and Education

6-Children and Health

7-Children and Refreshment

During the preparing conference, children elected 700 representatives for the general conference. The general conference was held for three days in Amman in 1997 and all representatives met together and 120 among these representatives were elected as permanent representatives in Parliament in addition to 24 as permanent presidents in the committees in Municipalities.

 The membership of the parliament and the conference consists of 50% for female children, 50% for male children and 3% for those who with special needs. The children's participation was with accordance to the Municipalities' population statistics.

 The union concentrates on studying the children's roles of the Parliament in the democratic way, keeping it away from Jordan's elections Law in which its complicated process tends to discourage women to take part in the elections. The  parliament consists of children aged 12-18 years distributed in various committees. The committees have conducted many activities and programs in this respect and are keen to let children participate in many different projects. They meet periodically and submit children's recommendations to the permanent office of the Parliament. The recommendation showed children interests, needs and difficulties

Up to this date, a total number of 40 meetings were taken place. In 1997 conference and comprehensive protocol were held to conduct the Parliament affairs and its mechanism. According to the basic parliament law, Parliament organizes the elections, membership of the parliament and the committees. The conference is held periodically every two years. 

 

Objectives of the Parliamen
  • Providing Jordan's children with the opportunity to participate in open discussions in issues concerning them
  • Providing Jordan's children with the basis for free expression of their ideas and discussing them with other children
  • Providing Jordan's children all over the Kingdom, and from all different social backgrounds with the chance to meet and to exchange views and ideas
  • Providing a good environment for children in general, and to female children in particular, to participate equally and without any discrimination: the framework of the parliament consists of 50% for boys, 50% for girls and 3% for children with special needs.
  • Training children on democratic behavior and organized group work as well as on respecting others view points, and democratic decisions
  • Spreading human rights principles in general, children's rights in particular

        Emphasizing the principle of justice, freedom, equality and respect of human rights     without any discrimination based on gender

        Strengthening the dialogue with the democratic concept among children in the parliament

        Improving the dialogue between two sexes

        Limiting the gap between the government children's law and  the children's parliament law by strengthening the children's participation and reflecting their recommendations into the government proposal for the children's law

 

Major Problems

  • The absence of a permanent place to unify meeting and children's activities
  •  The absence of the proper funding to cover the parliament expenses and needs, therefore, the Parliament had to depend on the union's donations.      

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