The Concerned for Working Children is effectively leveraging the decentralised democratic set up of the country for children’s engagement, by creating several local children councils, known as makkala panchayats, in rural Karnataka.
In Karnatka, following the Panchayati Raj Institutions model, the Concerned for Working Children has created several local children councils, known as makkala panchayats that act as a forum of and for children. Beginning in 1995 with just five panchayats, today there are makkala panchayats across 56 gram panchayats in the state. These panchayats have representation from various interest groups, and have constituted their own guidelines for operation.
The members are responsible for identifying their own needs and assess issues in the community through applying various research tools. On the basis of the information collected, children draft five-year plans and negotiate solutions with the Gram Panchayats.
The engagement of children in governance processes through makkala panchayats has resulted in a range of positive effects on children as well as the communities. Children’s participation in the political process has created awareness among the village communities about children’s ability and their potential to act as agents of change. CWC’s efforts were taken up at the state level when the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department in Karnataka, issued an order to make it mandatory for all panchayats within the state to hold annual children’s Gram Sabhas.