“I was a child and you will be adults. We need to share power as well as sharing resources”, said the Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julie Ward at the CATS conference 2016.
At a global conference on children’s rights and child participation, MEP Julie Ward stressed the importance of including children in policy making: “We need children because they have a great sense of justice, fresh view on things and they are not afraid to challenge”, she said.
The CATS conference is the annual global event on child participation co-led and co-organised by children, young people and adults. This year, it is gathering 310 people to discuss policies and sharing practices on child participation.
This year’s theme is “Local to global: how will we influence policy?”, the focus is on how children and young people can contribute to furthering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Julie Ward, MEP, gave a speech explaining how the children and young people, of which there were 160 in the crowd, could be in contact with MEPs like her. “MEPs have very busy lives and receive millions of email which they don’t all manage to read”, she said. “So you need to try to stay in our heads”, she added. “One way to stay in my head is to come and meet me, no matter the location, and bring ideas that I will not forget”.
Among the advise on how to lobby to politicians, Julie Ward mentioned, “You need to be in touch with our staff, they are the ones who help to keep us on top of things. Last year one of my staff members came to CATS with me and now we often talk about CATS together”. “Another point is, you need to be informed on what the European Parliament does and about what my party’s values are”, she continued.
“The CATS conference is a model of what society should be like” Julie Ward said. “ I encourage you to keep doing what you are doing and keeping me involved”, she concluded.
The MEP intervened on the 4th day of CATS, which is the day when the different delegations presented their ideas for policy change on poverty reduction, peace and justice and quality education.
During the rest of the conference up until 1 August, the participants will choose the best of all proposals on SDG-related participatory policies.
Stemming from this proposal, the CATS conference will release recommendations to governments and international bodies (e.g. UN, the Council of Europe and the European Union) on how children and adults together can help achieve SDGs.
Browse all the photos of CATS 2016