Connecting the dots - Joining forces for enhanced child rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Focusing on children's well-being and their rights, World Vision works to achieve a peaceful and just society in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and supports and capacitates institutions in their endeavors to protect children, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, and race.

BiH is administratively extremely complex. This hinders the much-needed coordination among the various child-protection bodies, creating an environment where schools fail to report their concerns to the welfare centers, thus allowing children in need of protection to get lost in the system. Statistical data about children in BiH is unreliable and is collected through individual academic and NGO channels, that unfortunately often overlap in their research design.

This was also the case at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic – schools were left to individually design their own online teaching system, scrambling for IT equipment and using private contacts to ask for donations of disinfectants. Children, on the other hand, lost face-to-face contact with their friends and experienced loneliness and anxiety; they listened to family arguments and started fearing the potential loss of family income, or losing family members, had trouble following the school lessons, and worried about their own education. In addition, children from rural and semi-rural communities did not have access to mobile phones or tablets, further exacerbating their isolation and anxiety.

It is amidst these circumstances that World Vision started connecting the dots, and subsequently named the project aiming to improve coordination among government bodies, including children in the decision-making process, Connecting the Dots – Joining forces for enhanced child rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The project targets 3 key system-level issues in B&H: coordination, accountability, and lack of children’s voices in decision-making platforms.

World Vision opened the call for participation to all children in BiH and subsequently involved 120 boys and 120 girls in project implementation. The first point of contact was online and this is where children learned about the ways of influencing governments. Together, children learned about advocacy, and child rights and started research into the practices that violate these rights in their local communities. As a first step in giving voice to children and empowering them to become a part of the solution, World Vision provided them with direct access to state authorities.

To this end, World Vision has established an online platform for coordination of all state institutions, and non-government organizations that deal with the rights of children, as well as the children and youth organizations and non-formal groups that seek to address violations of child rights in their communities.

The Platform is programmed into the website of the Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees in BiH and also allows public access to anyone seeking to learn more about the rights of the child, or ask for the government to react to their violations. Having transferred the ownership of the platform to a state institution, World Vision ensured the sustainability of the project initiative.

Endorsed by the state Ministry, the platform will be crucial in collecting CR documents and informing B&H's UN Committee on the Status of Children's Rights in B&H.

The project Connecting the Dots – Joining forces for enhanced child rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina’  is funded by the European Union.