We must all listen to young people and champion their rights

In her role as a Speak Out champion Anna is passionate about advocating for girls and young women to use their voices to express themselves


Here she talks about Together’s State of Children’s Rights Report 2022 and why it’s so important for everyone to listen to and champion the rights of young people across Scotland, especially now the pandemic has altered the way we live.

As someone who is extremely interested in equality and social justice, I think it is vital for everyone, no matter their background, to be represented. Thankfully, Speak Out gives us the opportunity to share our own opinions and the voices of members of Girlguiding Scotland.

Together, the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights investigated how well children’s rights are being respected within Scotland, in the 2022 State of Children’s Rights Report. This is an amazing step towards equality for all children in Scotland as we can highlight key issues and move forward. The report included steps that adults can take to make sure that young people’s rights are protected.

Similarly, Girlguiding launched the latest Girls’ Attitudes Survey which describes the thoughts and opinions of girls and young women across the country. The pandemic was particularly tough on us as we struggled with online learning and not being able to see our friends. Both reports recognised that this was a major issue as many of us doing our exams this year, like myself, are still worried about the gaps in our education as a result of lockdown.

The Girls’ Attitude Survey shows that one girl, aged 14-16, said that:

Because of the pandemic, I feel like I won’t get the grades to be able to get a job that I want.

Clearly, this issue is not uncommon amongst teens and children alike. The State of Children’s Rights Report also found this and reminded adults that:

Not all children will want to engage in the same way, so offer children a range of ways to take part and support other methods that children come up with.

This means that children will be listened to and that their thoughts and individual learning styles are accounted for. This will result in a better approach to education and support all kinds of different learners.

Another issue that was mentioned in both reports was the importance of play for children. Throughout the pandemic it was extremely hard for children to interact with each other and they did not get the quality time with their friends they did previously. The State of Children’s Rights Report said that:

Not having enough chances to play can impact children’s language development, imagination and social skills.

Although children were stuck at home, they didn’t have the opportunity to go outside and interact with others, as they would have before the pandemic. In the Girls’ Attitudes Survey a girl aged 9-10 said:

I was lonely with nobody to play with and my park was closed.

Evidently, the pandemic had such a huge impact on all of our lives so it’s vital to listen to the experiences of the children that suffered throughout as well. Therefore, reports and surveys such as these are incredibly important to improving the lives of children living in Scotland so that issues can be addressed and we can work towards a rights-respecting nation.

Girls taking action

Head to our Girls Taking Action section to find out more about how we help girls and young women across Scotland speak out and use their voice for change.