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In 12 of 29 CEECIS countries are at risk of not developing to their potential due to poverty, stunting or both.
Making an IMPACT: Inkilob Yusupova, Association for Support of Children and Families
Mrs. Inkilob Yusupova is the Chairperson of the Association for Support of Children and Families. She has been partnering with UNICEF for over two decades to actively involve children and young people in decision-making processes on issues that affect them. Mrs. Yusupova believes that young people make invaluable contributions to communities and are empowered themselves when they participate. Today, she shares some of her experiences with UNICEF.
You have been a partner with UNICEF in implementing children and youth empowerment programme in Uzbekistan. Could you share some of the key achievements and challenges in the last five years of this partnership?
Since the beginning of our organization’s work in 1988, the issue of increasing youth participation in social development has been one of our main priorities.
The Children's Parliament established in 2002 by our organization has transformed into the Young Generation Council. Almost two-hundred Council members who are selected by their peers in each district and city represent the children of the whole country. Over the past fifteen years, the Association has earned recognition at the national and regional levels.
In the last five years of our partnership with UNICEF, we have implemented programmes aimed at the realization of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and related national legislation, in the best interest of the child.
As an example, in 2015, the Young Generation Council members took part in the needs assessment of families that have children with disabilities in one of the districts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. Their recommendations have been made to the government and communities on how to improve the situation of children with disabilities living in this area, including establishment of the Social Support Center. The work is currently underway to translate these recommendations into action.
It is becoming a tradition to hold summer camp outreach campaigns that help promoting the Convention on the Rights of the Child across the country. We reach around 300,000 children annually with knowledge and skills on applying the articles of the CRC and the Law "On Guarantees of the Rights of the Child", using the “peer-to-peer” approach.
The Young Generation Council members often hold meetings with the Members of the Parliament to inform them about the work young people do and the issues identified during discussions with their peers.
As to the challenges, these are usually financial difficulties that we face. A comprehensive training of the newly elected Young Generation Council members requires regular funding that we often lack. We always look for the opportunities to mobilize resources in order to achieve sustainable results.
How do you assess the level of youth participation in Uzbekistan?
We have come a long way since Uzbekistan's independence. The participatory approach that the Association and UNICEF take in working with children, has been recognized at all levels of the government. Thus, the issues of youth participation in Uzbekistan are becoming more significant day by day.
When youth are engaged in community activities they help the community to progress and also develop the skills needed to be an effective leader. This, in turn, leads to the magnified positive results for the country, when these empowered young people take on the roles of managers and decision-makers. Truly a win-win situation. We have already generated many concrete examples of how this works in practice.
The government provides the necessary support to ensure comprehensive development of children and youth. Our mission is to ensure that young people have the knowledge and skills to use these opportunities and exercise their rights, as well as to identify the areas which require further improvement, and communicating the gaps to the decision-makers.
How do you ensure that your work on children and youth empowerment reaches the most vulnerable groups, including children living in institutions and children with disabilities?
Working with the most vulnerable children is one of the priorities of the Association. One of the recent examples include our experience with the families who have children with disabilities in Karakalpakstan that I have cited earlier.
In general, we make extensive use of the "peer-to-peer" approach and other participatory methodologies to reach children living in institutions and children with disabilities. A lot of work with these children is done through the summer camp settings.
The members of the Young Generation Council go through the specialized training where they learn how to organize their work with the disadvantaged children, engage various partners, bring about positive changes in the real people’s lives, and most importantly, on how to make the results sustainable.
In conclusion, I would like to thank UNICEF for the invaluable support the agency has been providing for all our endeavors. We appreciate our partnership and are ready to implement the ambitious joint interventions planned within the new country programme 2016-2020.