UNICEF celebrates the unique worldview of indigenous children and richness of their voices
New York, 9 August – On International Day of the World’s Indigenous People, UNICEF joins the international community in celebrating the unique worldview of indigenous children and the richness and diversity that their voices bring to the human family.
The theme of the International Day this year is “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples among others provide unique references for UNICEF’s enduring commitment to the indigenous child.
The convention says an indigenous child “shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practice his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.” This resonates through UNICEF’s work for indigenous children around the world.
Indigenous children, like all other children, have the right to freely express their views in all matters affecting them. For them to do so effectively the media needs to be supported to pay particular attention to their linguistic needs.
Doing so would also facilitate the building of bridges between indigenous and non-indigenous children and enrich a cross exchange and mutual understanding and respect for diverse cultures that humanity has been blessed with.
UNICEF has supported a number of initiatives to promote the interaction between indigenous children and the media:
Aiming to increase awareness on the rights of disadvantaged children, in 2010 young indigenous leaders alongside UNICEF Brazil National Ambassador Lazaro Ramos were instrumental in bringing messages on “childhood without racism” across the North and North East of the country through both the traditional and social media.
In Chile, UNICEF is using its assessment of the extent to which indigenous children are visible in the written press to train stakeholders such as journalists on how to sharpen their focus on specific issues. This is being complemented by two indigenous child-centred publications which document the voices of children from the Araucania region on issues such as identity, discrimination, languages and their dreams and aspirations.
Children and the Media: A handbook for Journalists produced by UNICEF Guyana in 2007 remains a viable tool for all stakeholders in their effort to bring awareness to the media on reporting for children.
Nirmala Govinda, a child is quoted in the handbook as saying: “Even though we may criticise the media sometimes, I am seeing the positive role it is playing, or can play, for me as a student. I am able to read, hear and see what is happening in the country, the good things and the bad things. I am able to find material in the newspapers to help me to do my assignments. I am looking for the positive.”
UNICEF continues to support indigenous children and journalists wishes all indigenous children, their families and communities around the world a happy International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.