Youth participation – November 22 2020 Maya advocates for the rights of Palestinian children Maya is a 17-year-old girl representing children of Bethlehem governorate as President of the Palestinian Children Council. Maya defends children by monitoring any violations that she and her team notice at school, in the street, or anywhere they witnesses injustice against a child. She then reports it to decision makers and respective ministries so they may take the necessary measures. Maya also has a role advocating for children’s rights, through discussions with various ministries about problems the children in her governorate face. “I think it’s good that we, as children, meet and talk to decision makers because I feel, when they hear our concerns directly from us, they value it more”, explains Maya. Maya’s journey as an advocate for children’s rights started at SOS Children’s Villages. With other children her age, she attended many sessions related to child protection and safeguarding, and since then became interested in gaining more knowledge about the topic. Later, she had the opportunity to be part of the Palestinian Children Council in Bethlehem and her sister encouraged her to apply. “My sister said that, because of the information I received already in the village, I can defend children’s rights well. I applied, gave a speech and they voted for me”, says Maya. Maya’s dream is to become a lawyer. A dream she already started working on, seeking to gain more knowledge about children’s rights and reading more books about it. In addition, since she made a field visit to the Juvenile Prosecutor's Office in September and spent the day in the role of the Chief of Juvenile Prosecution, her motivation is even greater. “The fact that the Head of the Juvenile Prosecution Office invited me and taught me about his job, showed me how much he cares about the interest of children, and spending the day in his role made me more motivated to pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer”, says Maya. Meanwhile, Maya continues to make the voices of children reach decision makers and supports the idea that children should know their rights and participate more actively in their communities. “Children should have a total knowledge about their rights, to be able to defend themselves. It’s true that we usually talk about children’s rights to education, health services etc. However, I think we are still lacking the right to participation and children should have more opportunities to share their opinion and participate more in different activities”, concludes Maya.