Changing children’s lives, one story at a time
Dhaka, 4 November 2009. Like teenagers everywhere, Tanzia Islam Prianka, 17, has faced some problems as she grows into adulthood. But while making a short documentary, she realised that her own concerns paled in comparison to those of the street children she was filming.
“I come from a well-off family but I have faced problems, such as ‘eve-teasing’ from boys when I walk on the street. But I thought, ‘what about the troubles that girls living on the street are facing?’”
Today, Prianka won first prize in her category of the Meena Media Awards for her video documentary showing that these girls have to beg for survival, sleep outside, and refuse requests to become prostitutes.
Prianka was one of 19 writers or film makers who won a Meena Media Award today for their work raising awareness of children’s issues in Bangladeshi print and broadcast media. The awards are split into two categories – one for child journalists like Prianka and one for adult journalists whose work highlights child rights.
Prianka believes that the media has the power to bring about social change.
“If someone watching my story is inspired to make their own story, and then that person inspires someone else, and so on, then this will create mass, long-term awareness of these issues,” says Prianka.
While she believes stories about children should receive more priority, she says that it is often a challenge to provide adequate coverage of these stories.
“Many people working in the media think that our viewers are not children, therefore they aren’t interested in stories about children. There is so much scope for the media to improve the situation of children, but first we need to change the attitude and mindset of the editorial decision makers.”
The award winners were decided through a transparent process by a panel of seven eminent judges from the fields of literature, journalism, film and academia.
Author Selina Hossain, who has been a member of the judging panel every year since the awards were launched by UNICEF in 2005, said the standard of entries was improving.
“Through this programme, a new generation of reporters has been created that are talking about the problems of our future,” she said.
The awards ceremony was opened today by UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, Carel de Rooy, who said that the volume of entries received from the media was encouraging.
“I must thank you for the space you give to children’s issues which is so important to raise awareness and bring about changes,” he said.
The awards are named after ‘Meena’: a popular animated character who was created in Bangladesh in 1991 to raise awareness of child rights, and who has now crossed borders to appear in books and TV shows in countries across South Asia.
The full list of award winners can be found on the press release – see link on the right.