Protection, key for every child’s survival and development
UNICEF media workshops highlight urgent need to protect the rights of all children
By Indra Kumari Nadchatram
KUALA LUMPUR, 4 November 2009 – Protection is key for every child’s survival and development highlighted the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at two media workshops held recently in Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Effective protection of childhood, said UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Mr. Youssouf Oomar, is a must based on fundamental, universal and inseparable rights – rather than needs that may differ from place to place or time to time.
“All children have the same rights. Yet, there are children hidden in the shadows of disparities, stigma and discrimination, where their daily challenges go unnoticed”, highlighted Mr. Youssouf. “Without a protective environment, the rights of these children will continue to be neglected and they will never experience the vision of childhood set forth in the CRC.”
Denied rights, denied a future
Poverty, geographic remoteness and lack of birth registration are some reasons that deny children their right to an identity as well as to protection and education. As a result, children grow up illiterate, malnourished and in poor health, increasing their risk to violence, exploitation and diseases such AIDS.
In Kota Kinabalu, ten-year old Danial shared with reporters his love for learning. “I love school. I want to learn because I want to be a doctor”, said the class prefect. “I want to make sick people better.”
The child of migrant labourer parents, Danial could not initially enrol in school since he had no formal documentation. Thankfully, his fortune changed because of a compassionate school principal who recognised his right to an education.
Danial is one of the lucky ones. In their Concluding Observations to Malaysia in 2007, the Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted that some 200,000 children of primary school-going age in Malaysia are not attending school.
Championing children and their rights
UNICEF believes that the media has a particularly significant role to play in championing childhood for every child as they can raise awareness of issues and provide advocacy to protect children.
Some 40 participants, including print and broadcast reporters as well as journalism and communication students and lecturers from Sabah and Sarawak stepped forward to say yes to children. The two-and-half day UNICEF Workshops were organised by Salt Media Communications.
“This workshop has inspired me to always consider the best interest of every child,” said film and broadcasting student Ineza Roussille (22). “I believe that by being responsible, I can craft my films and messages to tell beautiful stories that will truly celebrate the uniqueness of every child.”
CRC@20 newsline: Media partnerships
CRC@20 newsline: Malaysia