|© UNICEF Nepal / 2011/Shrestha|
|Jawa Khanal, 13, acted as chairperson for 'The State of the World's Children 2011' (SOWC) local launch in Achham District, Nepal. Unicef representatives and local district constituent assembly members also attended.|
By Rupa Joshi
ACHHAM, Nepal, 24 March 2011 – Shuffling their feet backward and forward, a dozen boys and girls moved gracefully in circles singing a ‘deuda’, a traditional form of song and dance popular in the far western hills of Nepal.
But this performance was different. “Why is there is neglect when a daughter is born
but celebration to welcome a son?” they sang, using music to raise awareness of issues including gender and caste discrimination, misconceptions surrounding menstruation, abuse and harassment.
Report launch in Nepal
The performance was part of the local launch of ‘The State of the World’s Children 2011– Adolescence: An Age of Opportunity’, UNICEF’s new flagship report, in Mangalsen, the capital of Achham District in western Nepal.
Its focus this year is on the development and rights of more than a billion children aged 10 to 19 worldwide.
The local launch ceremony was designed by adolescents and organised by UNICEF to discuss and explore issues that affect youngsters in the district.
The event featured a play about an alcoholic father, a mother who discriminates between her son and daughter, a daughter harassed by boys, and a son forced into early marriage who then has to go to India to work.
|© UNICEF Nepal / 2011/Joshi|
|Boys and girls performed a 'deuda', a traditional song and dance routine, as part of the Nepal launch. The song, based on issues adolescents face in Achham District, was written by the boys and girls themselves.|
The play touched upon issues of social and gender discrimination, early marriage, lack of purchasing power, sexually transmitted diseases, substance abuse, and migration in search of work.
In conjunction with the local launch, adolescents also attended a two-day workshop – in individual and mixed groups – where they explored the root causes of their problems and then voted to identify the issues they considered most important to them.
UNICEF Chief of Communication in Kathmandu John Brittain said the children had imbued traditional art forms with thought-provoking, powerful messages.
“This format reaches across generations here and allows the parents and authorities to understand the youngsters’ perspectives in a new and non-threatening manner,” he said.
The launch of the ‘State of the World’s Children 2011’ (SOWC) in Nepal was attended by members of the district authority and chaired by 13-year old Jawa Khanal.
Jawa, who is one of eight children in her family, walked for two days from her village of Ramaroshan to reach Mangalsen for the launch.
|© UNICEF Nepal/2011/Joshi|
|During a two-day workshop, run to coincide with the SOWC launch, the adolescents displayed artwork depicting issues affecting their lives, as well as their vision for a better tomorrow.|
“We should appreciate that UNICEF launched this important global report in remote Achham, amidst adolescents, whose issues we adults have not done enough to explore,” said Local Development Officer of Achham District Mahendra Lal Shrestha.
Time of opportunity
Sharad Singh Bhandari, a representative for Achham in the Constituent Assembly of Nepal, reiterated that adolescence is indeed a time of opportunity mixed with challenge.
“This is the age which can make or break a person's life,” he said, “depending upon how much support we, as adults, have been able to provide, and how much responsibility the adolescents have been able to take up.”
Mr. Singh Bhandari added: “I thank UNICEF for focusing on such an important topic and promise that I will do all I can, in my position, to reduce the challenges for these youngsters.”
The event concluded with a display of paintings made by the teenagers during the two-day workshop that depict issues affecting their lives, as well as their vision of a better tomorrow.
'The State of the World's Children 2011'
Download the full report [PDF]
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Childinfo.org: Monitoring the Situation of Children and Women
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