OPEN LETTER TO THE FUTURE MEMBER OF THE ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT
Esteemed future Member of the Parliament,
Very soon, you might be one of the Members, sitting in the Parliament of Albania playing a honourable role: bringing the voice of your constituencies in all the important law and policy discussions for the next four years, the voice and the interest of Albanian communities, families, the many men and women that have trusted you with their votes.
Boys and girls, although without voting rights, make up one third of the Albanian population and are an important segment of your constituencies. As such, Save the Children, Terre des hommes, UNICEF and World Vision in Albania would like to bring to your attention critical issues when it comes to advance the agenda for child rights.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified from the Parliament of Albania in 1992, provides a set of principles and standards on children’s entitlements to education, healthcare, wellbeing, social security, protection from abuses, unjust treatment and exploitation as well as the right to be heard. Commendable progress has been made and milestones have been reached on achieving good progress in promoting, and protecting children rights to health, education, social protection, justice and a caring environment, free of violence. Step by step, child participation is transitioning from pure tokenism into a practice of work. Better informed about their rights, children themselves have started to speak out and stand up for their rights.
“We live in a democratic country and this is why children’s rights must be respected. If not, the law should be applied. There are several child rights violations in our community”14-year-old Albanian girl.
Yet, the road towards reaching national and global commitments for children is steep, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis which is threatening and weakening formal and non-formal structures: institutions, communities, families, and children. Without targeted and well-resourced measures, the effects of the pandemic, the consequences for children now, and for our shared future might be severe.
Many are the challenges that the children and their families face, those challenges are more acute for children living in unserved rural and suburban areas. From consultations held with groups of children from different geography and background is revealed that they still feel discrimination, inequality and poverty as the main factors of social exclusion for them and their families. Many of them report on the lack of access to essential services. Many of them feel not to be given the value to their voice and opinion in issues of their concern.
"All children are equal, and we have equal rights, yet some have much better conditions than others. They (leaders/government) should not discriminate against (children)l instead, they should help them when they can… they must be placed on the shoes of all children and then, they might understand the tears of the orphans, the tears of the homeless, of the poor people who collect things on the street to make a living" 15-year-old Albanian girl.
Children feel that the violence is widespread at home, in schools in the communities. They are worried on the extend the language of aggressiveness, hate and violence is becoming the predominant model of public discussions on the TV and other media influencing the cascade of violence as the only way of conflict or disagreement resolution.
As the next member of the parliament you have been trusted and respected to make a change through speaking up and contributing to develop, review, and approve policies and budgets that serve better the wellbeing of children. The Albanian Parliament has often in the past been a model of good will, cooperation and leadership in bringing forward the child rights agenda by establishing the Parliamentary Group “Friends of Children”, as “a voluntary union of deputies of the Assembly, without distinction of conviction and political affiliation, with the mission to promote initiatives and state actions in support and protection of children's rights in Albania”. This group had a notable role in the undertaking of the legal measures and in the drafting of policies and programs on the rights of the children, as well as in the strengthening of the parliamentary control over the state and independent institutions for the implementation of these rights.
We do believe that your voice and contribution would be essential to advance the policies and advocate for adequate budgets to ensure:
- Guarantee access to quality and sufficient health and nutrition services and make vaccines available to every child in Albania
- Ensure all children learn, including by closing the digital divide
- Prevent children and families from falling into poverty and ensure an inclusive recovery for all
- Redouble efforts to prevent children from being victims of any form of violence, abuse and exploitation, including online safety
- Address issues related to environmental degradation
With this letter we also want to reassure you of a continuous support and cooperation. We will continue to provide data, make the evidence and support any solution to advance children rights. Most importantly, consider children as partners and valuable agents of change in their homes, their communities, their schools.
We wish you best of success in such an important endeavour for children and families all over Albania!
 Children don’t report cases of physical violence against them in school as form of disciplinary action. Instead they report increased emotional violence such as yelling, insulting, threatening as well as peer violence and bulling