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Consultation explores capital’s progress towards becoming ‘child-friendly city’

By JT - Jun 25,2014 - Last updated at Jun 25,2014

AMMAN — Young Jordanians on Wednesday presented their views and recommendations on the capital’s progress towards becoming a “child-friendly city” to an audience of ministers, government officials, and UN and civil society representatives. 

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) and UNICEF organised a national consultation at Al Hussein Cultural Centre with stakeholders to validate indicators that will measure this progress.

In preparation for the consultation, 50 children and young people from different parts of Amman have been discussing with their peers, as well as adults, what would make their city child-friendly, according to a joint statement released by GAM and UNICEF. 

“The Greater Amman Municipality is keen on working on the friendliness of the city, through implementing activities targeting the children of Amman, and activating GAM’s public facilities such as parks, playgrounds and libraries to become child friendly,” the statement quoted Amman Mayor Aqel Biltaji as saying.

UNICEF deputy representative Michele Servadei noted that “children can be at the centre of Jordan’s development agenda only if local governments and authorities make it happen at the city and community level.”

“I must commend the efforts of the Greater Amman Municipality, and the children and young people of Amman for taking the initiative to the next level, where we can actually measure Amman’s status  through a ‘child-friendly lens’,” he said.

Children speak out

During the consultation, young Jordanians presented indicators and advocated for improvements in 10 thematic areas through videos, skits, art and hand-drawn posters, the statement said.

The 10 areas are: economic empowerment and child labour; child safety and protection; the child-built environment; primary and mental health and counselling; children with disabilities; gender and the female child; early literacy and education; environment, recreation and sports; culture, creativity and the arts; and child participation and community-based planning.

GAM and UNICEF launched the child-friendly initiative in 2004 and the “Executive Agency for a Child Friendly City” was established in 2005, to work as a coordinating unit with executive powers, according to the statement. 

In the same year, a policy document — Greater Amman Municipality’s Policy and Priorities for Children — was developed through a participatory approach involving representatives of governmental and non-governmental organisations, along with children and adolescents, and launched under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania. 

GAM also established democratically elected youth councils, which contributed to the identification of priorities and the development of actions. 

However, GAM faced several difficulties in sectors that they were not held accountable for, like health, education and social services, as well as an insufficient budget, limited data and capacities, the statement said.  

Measuring Amman’s ‘child friendliness’ 

In order to have a better and more comprehensive measure of Amman’s progress as a child-friendly city, GAM and UNICEF worked with children and youth groups, specifically the Children’s Municipality Council and the UNICEF Change Agent Network, in reactivating child-friendly city indicators based on 10 thematic areas. 

Once validated and endorsed by GAM and line ministries, the indicators will be measured through a “technology lens”, through an interactive online portal including a website and social media, offering a meaningful platform to engage with a wide range of children, (Jordanian, Syrian and Palestinian), partners and decision makers, the statement said.

“We had a lot of fun learning about our own city of Amman. There are good things, but also a lot of areas that have to be improved,” said Burgal Junid, a participant. 

“We are proud of our city, and we will also help wherever we can to make it the most child-friendly city in the world,” the 19-year-old added.

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