Skip to content

‘Giving voice to future generations’

Save the Children exists to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable children survive, learn and are protected in over one hundred countries around the world. Lilei Chow, Global Technical Lead for the SDGs at Save the Children, told us how they’re working to shift power directly to the hands of children and communities.

“Whether we’re looking at climate change or poverty, the SDG agenda is the best framework we have to address the overlapping crises we face.”

Power to the children

“Children are agents of change and policy should be informed by what they want and need…this is how we make change happen for children around the world.”

Save the Children believe that the SDGs are inextricably linked to the rights of children and mutually reinforcing. As part of their Child Rights Governance Programming and advocacy, they have facilitated the involvement of children in Voluntary National Reviews (VNR). This is a vital process which examines a nation’s progress towards achieving the SDGs. According to Lilei, children’s voices are being heard for the first time in all the countries where they’ve implemented this approach, thereby helping to ensure that future policy decisions are informed by children’s needs.

“Having children speak truth to power is the way we change the world.”

Speaking up in New York

Although Lilei believes the SDGs do recognise children as agents of change, she stressed that many UN agencies don’t know how to engage with children or truly realise that their participation is a means of meeting the SDGs. 

To amplify the voices of children, Save the Children invited a 16-year-old advocate from Tanzania called Tatu to a UN conference in New York. Tatu is a Youth Advocate and Chair of the Central District Unguja Children’s Council. By speaking with policymakers directly about her experiences, Tatu was able to influence conference proceedings.

Tatu says that we need to increase the number of children in meetings so that the views, ideas and opinions of children can be heard loud and clear. She wants to be a good leader who can help children to grow well and attain their goals.

“I want to see large numbers of children getting the opportunity to expose their challenges in front of the government officers so that they can be solved immediately.”

A child’s perspective of the SDGs

Lilei shared some of the different ways children have approached the VNR process. For example, in Ethiopia, the children used drawings, while in Zambia, they had to communicate virtually and utilise video recordings due to the pandemic. According to Lilei, children have a less rigid way of thinking, which allows them to come up with unique perspectives and engage with the interconnected nature of the goals.

“Children get the issues. They care deeply about climate change, they care deeply about inequality. I’m always amazed at how rich their perspective is.”

Facilitating a whole society approach

Save the Children has been focussed on facilitating a broader range of partnerships to allow for power to be shared with smaller grassroots organisations. According to Lilei, this approach can allow for the inclusion of a more diverse range of views, especially from those who are the most impacted by inequality and discrimination.

“The SDGs can’t be realised without a whole society approach.”

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest news, events, resources and funding updates.

Sign up now