UNICEF in action
© UNICEF / 2008
Children make their voices heard at the Junior 8 Summit in Japan, 2008.
GIVING A VOICE TO YOUNG PEOPLE
UNICEF supports a range of programmes to give young people a voice in the region. There are Youth Parliaments and Forums in a number of countries, including Albania, Georgia and Turkey, giving young elected delegates the chance to debate issues and draw up civic and social plans of action.
There are young people taking an active part in UNICEF programmes, particularly in HIV/AIDS, where the most successful prevention initiatives are designed and implemented by young people themselves, with UNICEF offering support and guidance.
There is the Young People’s Media Network (YPMN), which aims to create a network of young people across the region who will be tomorrow's journalists and, very importantly, opinion-makers. YPMN links hundreds of young people's media projects with NGOs, media organizations and regional or international agencies that support such projects. It supports the production of One-Minute Juniors – 60-second videos on child rights themes created by young people, and the MAGIC website – a showcase for youth media ideas.
And UNICEF supports the participation of children and young people in the development of National Plans of Action (NPAs) and their implementation. There is growing evidence that this improves the impact of NPAs while encouraging the young to take responsibility for their lives and communities.
Child Reference Group (CRG) in Tajikistan
In 2003, UNICEF and Save the Children UK established a Child Reference Group in Tajikistan, training young participants in leadership skills, basic journalism, peer-to-peer methods and networking. Today, the CRG is the main link between the children of Tajikistan and government officials, NGOs and media. The CRG organised a national meeting of media and 200 children, including street children, children from institutions and children with disabilities to discuss the NPA for Children and 70% of the children’s proposals were incorporated. As one Government official commented: “It took time for us to learn that adults and children are citizens of the same country and need to work together to find solutions.”
Young People at European HIV/AIDS Conference
In February 2004, 10 young people from eastern and western Europe took part in the Irish EU Presidency Conference on HIV/AIDS in Europe and Central Asia in Dublin. The 10 – all seasoned campaigners on HIV/AIDS – were selected by peers at a meeting organised by UNICEF, Development Cooperation Ireland, WHO, UNAIDS and the European Youth Forum. In Dublin they spoke alongside Ministers and shared their views on the outcomes. Wrapping-up the Conference Sergiy Goncharuk of Ukraine spoke on behalf of the 10, saying: “There are five girls and five guys in front of you. Half of us are from the East, and half from the West. We are not only making statements, we are taking action. We are open and energetic, and we can be a big support. Honorable ministers, some time later we will come to your office with concrete projects and ideas. Please keep your door open for us.”
“Troc!” in Albania
“The only goal we have,”says 16-year-old Troc! reporter Ebi Spahiu, “is to bring out the truth so that things can improve.” Troc!, which means “tell it like it is” is a groundbreaking TV programme on youth and social issues made by young people in Albania. It tackles issues that other programmes avoid, and its stories have led to the dismissal of the head of a poorly-run children’s institution and the arrival of textbooks that were urgently needed for exams. UNICEF supports 11 Troc! bureaus around the country, while national TV station TVSH supplies a studio, producer and editor, and two hours of air-time every week. Research has found that around 90% of those aged 11-20 are regular viewers, and that more than two thirds of teenagers discuss the issues raised by Troc! with their friends.