UNICEF Global     TR
Home page > Press Centre > 2015 > February > 
Leave your contact details to get regular news from UNICEF

Press Centre (2/2015)

Reviewing Child-Friendly Cities in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, February 2015 – “In my opinion, fixing problems in schools must be the first priority. I’m really upset that we have very few playgrounds and children have to play on the streets” says 12-year-old Hazal as she lists the problems in her city. She believes that the solution is to raise awareness on children’s rights and child-friendly cities among the residents of her district, and says the families need to be trained on these subjects. 

Hazal lives in Mamak district of Ankara, which has a “not very good reputation” due to the dumpsite it once harbored and its 1980s military prison. The meeting, where 7th grader Hazal freely and very confidently spoke of the problems with her city before the municipality officers, is the “Children’s Action Plan for Mamak” workshop.

There, the results of the “Rights-Based Community Assessment in Mamak and Service Mapping” undertaken after UNICEF Turkey and the Municipality of Mamak signed a “Child-Friendly City” protocol were discussed with the relevant organizations and the public.

The results of the surveys, which were carried out in the form of interviews with a total of 892 respondents including children, adolescents, parents and service providers in Mamak were addressed by the participants in the second part of the workshop. The participants specifically discussed the underlying reasons for the identified problems and possible solutions. Within the scope of five main headings, positive results were observed in the areas of “home environment” and “private life” whereas the scores from the headings “play and leisure”, “participation and citizenship” and “health” were unsatisfactory.

Volunteer advocates for children’s rights are on the job

A student in Yıldırım Beyazıt University Department of Finance, Dilek Ateşoğlu said Mamak is a developing region and the people are open to change. The fundamental problems she observed during the assessment were the risk of substance abuse facing children, limited areas of play, people’s lack of involvement in decision-making mechanisms and domestic problems.

Mrs. Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF Representative OIC, Mayor of Mamak Mr. Mesut Akgül and IKEA’s Marketing Director Mrs. Özge Kocaoğlu gave certificates to Dilek and other volunteer advocates for children’s rights who carried out the assessment as a recognition of their crucial role in community engagement.

UNICEF supports child-friendly municipalities

In her opening speech, Mrs. Lieke van de Wiel noted that, with financial support from IKEA and the UNICEF Turkish National Committee, the Child-Friendly Cities initiative supports 10 municipalities in their endeavors to develop child-friendly policies and programs as well as create child-friendly environments.

 “Our aim is to ensure much better lives for the children in these regions. So far, in Ankara, we have only worked with the Municipality of Mamak; yet, what we have learnt from our experience here will be used as a baseline for the studies to be undertaken throughout the rest of Turkey as well as in other countries. It is important to evaluate the results from the assessment and identify the potential actions to be taken. We are trying to make sure that child-friendly municipalities and communities are in a position to make contributions for children as part of their daily lives.”

In his remarks before the workshop, the Mayor of Mamak Mr. Mesut Akgül said the period following this workshop would involve an important step in creating a child-friendly Mamak as part of the cooperation with UNICEF. “It must be our duty to shape the cities we will leave to the children not only in accordance with the needs of children but also based on a vision for the future.” said Mayor Akgül before he extended his regards to UNICEF officers, to IKEA and to the young volunteers who conducted the assessment.

During the coffee break in the afternoon, we resumed our conversation with Hazal, the President of Mamak Children’s Committee since November 2014. Dreaming to become a leading politician in the future, Hazal believes Mamak is very lucky: “because Mamak is one of Turkey’s 10 districts on the Child-Friendly Cities list and it is the only one in Ankara.”

A Child-Friendly City is a city where children’s rights are de facto taken into account in the municipal policies, laws, programs and budgets. In a Child-Friendly City children are actively involved in the city administration and their ideas are valued by the officials. These ideas are translated into the city’s policies.

For further information on a Child-Friendly Cities: http://unicef.org.tr/sayfa.aspx?id=64&dil=en&d=1

Story by: Ayberk Yurtsever
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org