A policy shift towards integrated delivery of services for young children and families followed the election of a government with a commitment to greater state involvement in early childhood care and education. Advocacy by a range of non-state agencies for integrated care and education for children for their and the country’s development was acknowledged by the government and expressed in policy. Government gave profile to the issue, with an independent department with a cabinet minister. The policy change remains in transition, partly due to traditional Catholic family values that have persisted, with successive governments reluctant to intervene in the family.
A demographic ‘shock’ of an ageing population with low fertility opened an opportunity to address work-life balance (WLB) demands that discourage female employment and family size in Japan. With a weak civil society and strong business influence, research shared in the media drew policy attention to these WLB concerns and their link to declining fertility. Japanese state actors consulted and communicated with key stakeholders on policy options. With accumulating evidence and pressure from opposition parties, Prime Minister Abe led the adoption of WLB and workplace reforms, positioning the changes as an economic investment. With various incentives for reforms, this drew support from previously opposed business interests, and systems were introduced to monitor policy uptake and performance. While changing, gender norms have been more difficult to shift and further measures are underway.
Kenya’s laws on sexual offences, female genital mutilation and domestic violence show the strategic role of law reform in changing norms and policy in Kenya on gender based violence (GBV). An alliance across women’s movements and civil society on gender equality, a rise in legal and judicial activism on cases of GBV, Constitutional reform and inclusion of civil society activists in government opened opportunities for policy change. A National Gender and Equality Commission consulted and engaged stake-holders on law reform. As each law was passed, state and civil society supported implementation and sensitised communities, to build support for the next. The Kenya Women Parliamentary caucus and gender champions organized political support and compromises were made to enable the earlier laws to pass, for their implementation to further change awareness, practices and social norms. The experience showed the risk of reversal of gains made and the need for consistent engagement, before, during and after the policy reform.
An Ombudsman for Children and civil society organisations in Norway provide safe spaces and participatory processes for children and youth to express and report their experience with services, including in parliamentary hearings. The OCN bridged formal and informal processes. The realities that children presented to political actors were a wake-up call, triggering their support and raising cross-party political support for law reforms on children’s participation in planning in municipalities, schools, health services and the care system. The 2014 Constitution now provides a duty for this. Challenges and social debates continue and barriers remain, especially for disadvantaged children, but there is a growing understanding on the new and important insights children bring to the improved functioning of society and services.
In Peru there was a shift from targeted strategies on food and welfare assistance towards comprehensive, multi-sectoral strategies to address child poverty through improved food security, access to health services and social protection. Three rounds of political and electoral change post 2000 provided opportunities to raise policy attention, develop, adopt and institutionalise policy change. Thematic policy round tables (Mesas) facilitated inclusive dialogue across civil society, technical and political actors to set new policy directions, while civil society engaged political actors through electoral pledges. Multi-sectoral strategies were developed, drawing on experience in the regions, and results-based budgets, communication outreach and capacity support used to incentivize policy uptake. Each opportunity was used to make advances, while work was implemented to strengthen the institutional arrangements for co-ordination of cross sectoral work and to monitor service delivery to consolidate implementer, political and public support.