The 7th Regional Meeting of Child Rights Coalitions in Europe represented a great learning and networking experience for all ChildPact’s participants. The event took place in Bulgaria, at Sofia, on the 28th-30th of April 2014, gathering national, regional and European NGO networks, child protection experts as well as representatives of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, of the European Commission and other interested stakeholders.
This well-known regional event has been made possible thanks to the efforts undertaken by the hosts – the Bulgarian National Network for Children, member of ChildPact – with the generous support of ChildPact, Eurochild, Child Rights Connect and UNICEF Bulgaria.
The conference has been envisaged as a two days interactive seminar followed by a day of several workshops. The first two days aimed to share experiences in children’s rights advocacy, monitoring and networking while the training day was planned to strengthen the participants’ capacity in advocacy, strategic and operational management of coalitions and public communication.
One of the highlights of the conference was the special training delivered by two representatives of the Bulgarian member in ChildPact, the National Network for Children – George Bogdanov and Dani Koleva – who facilitated a workshop on “Strategic and Operative Management of Child Rights Coalitions”. Running wide coalitions of NGOs, managing everybody’s expectations and inputs, building trusted relations, concerting everybody’s efforts towards joint advocacy messages and endeavors, representing the coalition in international contexts is not an easy challenge to tackle. For such reasons, this workshop has been an excellent opportunity for all the ChildPact Steering Committee members to engage in discussions around efficient strategies of managing child-focused coalitions while harvesting the management experience shared by the Bulgarians.
Furthermore, on the first day of the conference, within the thematic “The advancement of children’s rights in Europe”, ChildPact’s Secretary General, Mirela Oprea, has facilitated a working group session aiming to answer at the following question: How can accession and neighbouring countries use EU legislation and policies to advance children’s rights? Within this session, several child protection experts shared their transition experience and the impact of this transition on the reform of the child protection system (Andy Guth and Bogdan Simion – Romania), the status of child protection reforms in enlargement countries (Sasha Stefanovic – Serbia; Ridiona Stana – Albania), and the progress and difficulties encountered in neighbouring countries (Jaba Nachkebia – Georgia; Mira Antonyan – Armenia; Kamala Seyidova – Azerbaijan) as well as tips and advises related to EU funding and advocacy for advancing child issues.