On the eve of International Women's Day, Malaysia's favorite twins call on boys to respect and protect girls from violence
KUALA LUMPUR, 7 March 2013 – UNICEF Malaysia has officially named Upin and Ipin as National Ambassadors for children. The hugely popular animated twins were introduced in their new roles at a press conference on the eve of International Women's Day.
UNICEF Representative to Malaysia, Ms. Wivina Belmonte welcomed the two young ambassadors and congratulated them on their first initiative for UNICEF, a public service announcement (PSA) on violence against girls, calling on boys to respect, love and care for the girls and women in their lives."
"UNICEF National Ambassadors are chosen because of their popularity and because of their demonstrated commitment to championing the rights and well-being of children. Today, Upin & Ipin are sending an important message, in their own special way, through this PSA – that real boys don't bully, hit or hurt girls. It's not cool, it's not funny and it's not right," said Ms. Belmonte. "In doing so, Upin and Ipin join a global call to end the epidemic of violence against girls and women. I can't think of a more powerful way for them to begin their role as National Ambassadors."
The most common form of violence experienced by girls and women globally is physical violence. On average, at least one in three women is beaten or abused in her lifetime. Globally, as many as half of all sexual assaults are committed against girls under 16. In Malaysia, the number of reported cases of child sexual abuse almost tripled between 1997 and 2005. More than 90% of the reported cases involved girls.
The theme of this year's International Women's Day is A Promise is a Promise – Time for Action to End Violence Against Women. In line with the theme and in partnership with Upin and Ipin, UNICEF Malaysia has developed an initiative to encourage boys to support, protect and speak out on violence against girls.
Children championing children
During the press conference, Upin & Ipin said they were very excited to be of service to UNICEF Malaysia, and looked forward to carrying out their duties and roles diligently.
"Even though we are just 5 years old, we are definitely ready to be a voice for girls and boys in Malaysia," said Upin, to chants of "Betul, betul, betul!" or "Yes, yes, yes!" from Ipin.
UNICEF Malaysia will work with Les Copaque, the producers of Upin & Ipin, to use the celebrated TV series to create awareness on issues involving children with disabilities, bullying, internet safety and violence against girls. As UNICEF National Ambassadors, Upin and Ipin will also use their popular social media platforms and events to promote child-friendly messages and behavior.
"The Upin & Ipin series that we've produced, now in our 6th year, promotes child participation and social values of mutual respect, a sense of family and community as well as the strong bond of friendship. We certainly look forward to supporting UNICEF through our media and social media platforms in advocating issues such as child rights, children with disabilities, bullying and environmental awareness," said Mr. Karyabudi Mohd Aris, Head of International Marketing at Les Copaque.
Children can change the world!
Upin & Ipin are the main characters of an award-winning Malaysian animated cartoon series revolving around the lives of a pair of five-year old identical twin orphans, living in a fictional village with their elder sister, grandmother and multi-ethnic friends. The two main characters embody the unique challenges children can face as they grow up.
"The series showcases the ideal behaviour of children towards their friends, adults and their surroundings. The series also encourages children to speak for themselves and shows how adults can connect positively with children. Respect for elders, hand-washing, hygiene and disability are amongst the issues presented in various episodes.
In their role as National Ambassadors, Upin and Ipin will continue to be vital voices and wonderful examples to children in Malaysia. Their messages will be anchored on UNICEF Malaysia's Children4Change initiative, which promotes child participation and positive behavior
"Violence against girls and women is a global issue, not just a women's problem. It is time for men and boys to also stand up and say NO MORE - no more violence against their mothers, sisters, friends and neighbours. Upin & Ipin are leading the way. And UNICEF thanks them for it," added Ms. Belmonte.
The animation industry in Malaysia
The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), who hosted the press conference, applauded Upin & Ipin's appointment as UNICEF Malaysia's National Ambassadors.
Mr. Kamil Othman, Vice President of Creative Multimedia at MDeC said "As driver of the creative multimedia development division under the MSC Malaysia national ICT initiative, we are proud to witness Upin & Ipin's appointment as UNICEF Malaysia's national ambassadors. This marks a rare feat for the local creative multimedia & animation industry, which we hope will further strengthen Malaysia's position as a world-class creative industry hub."
"MDeC is committed to providing a conducive environment to enable creative multimedia and animation companies such as Les Copaque to harness their full potential. The Creative Multimedia content industry currently contributes 1.6% to Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is expected to rake in revenues of RM16 billion in 2013" he continued.