Electoral candidates of all political shades are being urged to sign a declaration committing themselves to encourage children's participation in decision-making.

The Childrens Rights Observatory Malta (CROM), set up through an agreement between the University of Malta and the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, believes candidates should openly declare their political intent to champion children’s aspirations.

The declaration commits prospective MPs to work to create an inclusive safe space for child participation. This is being done at a time when 16-year-olds will be allowed to cast their vote in a general election for the first time in Malta’s electoral history.

Wellbeing foundation chair Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said: “For too long, policymakers have given scant importance to how their decisions directly impacted children. We hope this declaration to become a Childrens Rights Champion will be pressure electoral candidates to recognise that promoting children’s rights is a move that benefits them and our children’s present and future.”

The President Emeritus, who is also Eurochild president, stressed that children should be able to weigh in on decisions that affect them directly, and the only way this could happen was if prospective MPs committed to listen to children’s aspirations when drafting new laws and policies.

Martina Olivia, 17, a member of the Children and Young Persons Council within the Malta Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, said children were not second-class citizens.

“Children’s proposals must be taken seriously if we want to ensure a brighter future where our societys wellbeing is prioritised. This is why we need electoral candidates and people in power on board with us children, ready to adopt an inclusive vision to break the passive mindset on our island,” Olivia said.

In the past days, electoral candidates received an invitation to sign a declaration to become a Children’s Rights Champion. Their commitment, the observatory said, will be publicised on social media.

Meanwhile, those interested can send an email to childrenshub.mfws@gov.mt or call 7950 8352.

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