Cover: Advocacy efforts in Brazil to extend the recognition of children's rights in early childhood

Advocacy efforts in Brazil to extend the recognition of children's rights in early childhood

A case study

Published Jun 22, 2021

by Pedro Sanjurjo, Miriam Broeks, Mafalda Pardal, Emma Leenders, Emma Disley

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Case Study Summary

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This case study analyses the events and debates between 2012 and 2016 leading up to the adoption of a Legal Framework for early childhood development in Brazil, focussing on advocacy efforts of the National Network of Early Childhood (RNPI), while recognising the active roles played by the Brazilian government's legislative and executive powers, as well as, by other civil society organisations. It highlights the factors that facilitated the adoption of the Legal Framework, including a favourable political climate and close collaboration between civil society and political stakeholders. The case study also describes some of the challenges experienced in the process, including time pressure, concerns of business organisation and a Special Committee that opposed its approval. Finally, it describes the continued work by RNPI and the Brazilian judiciary to ensure the effective implementation of the Legal Framework.

Key Findings

A favourable political climate facilitated the adoption of the Legal Framework

At the time that advocacy efforts took place for the adoption of the Legal Framework, the political climate within the Brazilian government was receptive to social policies. This was further enhanced by the work of various civil society organisations, individuals, and scientific evidence.

Knowledgeable leaders guided the legal process and helped gather support through their well-established networks

Osmar Terra, a federal deputy and specialist on early childhood, and Vital Didonet, an expert in ECD, guided decision-making to ensure strategic action throughout the process. They helped mobilise a greater number of supporters within the political sphere and civil society.

Civil society organisations helped raise awareness about the need for a Legal Framework

RNPI led various awareness-raising activities and increased the profile of the issue in the media.

There were some challenges in achieving the adoption of the Legal Framework

Challenges included time pressure and a lack of awareness about early childhood issues, concerns from business organisations about the Legal Framework and a special committee in the Senate that was opposed the Legal Framework.

Work to ensure the effective implementation of the Legal Framework continues

RNPI continues to work actively to ensure the application of the Legal Framework at the local level and national level. In 2019, a National Pact for Early Childhood was created by several public institutions, including the National Council of Justice, the Early Childhood Parliamentary Front and several ministries. Over 100 civil society organisations have since joined.

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The research described in this report was prepared for the Bernard van Leer Found and conducted by RAND Europe.

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