Regional Director meets Armenia's Future
Armenian young people say: We want to be taken more seriouslyYEREVAN, 2 November – Maria Calivis, UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and CIS listened to the views of children in Yerevan today, during her 4-day visit to Armenia. "This is one of the most important meetings I will have during my stay" said Maria Calivis. "Together with my colleagues from UNICEF Armenia, I am here to listen to you and to learn from you."
The children came from NGOs working with UNICEF to ensure youth participation in the media. The issues they raised included access to education for children with disabilities, youth unemployment and the lack of opportunities for children to express themselves.
"It is not just a matter of laws and policies," said Ani Hovhannisiyan, a 16-year-old journalist from Sunflower magazine, published by the Bridge of Hope NGO. "It is about the lack of action today that prevents many children with limited physical abilities from receiving quality education and from contributing to the communities they live in."
And 17-year old Gor Baghdarasryan of the "Manana" Youth & Educational NGO said that the major problem is the lack of opportunities for young people to be creative and express themselves. "NGOs have taken on the responsibility to provide such opportunities for us, however, they are extremely limited," he said.
"This problem should be tackled at a higher, governmental level. There are many talented children and young people in Armenia and if they are not supported properly, we are going to lose a whole generation that has potential to make difference in this country," he said.
Responding to questions raised by young people, Maria Calivis singled out major issues that should be addressed in Armenia.
"I see that quality education is a big challenge for this country," she said. "It is of paramount importance to ensure that all children in Armenia have access to quality basic education. This is the only way we can guarantee that tomorrow those children will be able to have a gainful employment. There are many families, particularly in rural areas, who have no access to health, education and social services. Support to those families should come at all levels, starting from communities and up to central authorities.
"Armenia has the potential to deal with all these problems, " she emphasized, adding also that children and young people should be given more space to make their voices heard, particularly in the decisions that have an effect on their lives.
Those taking part in the meeting called on authorities at all levels to engage more with children and young people.
"Saying that we have rights is not enough for us," said 13-year-old Lilit Beglaryan of Bridge of Hope. "We want to see those rights being respected, being taken seriously and being acted upon.
"I strongly believe that we also have a potential to change things in our country for the better," she added.
For more information:
Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer, UNICEF Armenia, tel: (+ 374 10) 580 174, email: firstname.lastname@example.org