|UNICEF Digital Diarist Jorge Luis, 16, of Nicaragua was one of a group of youth journalists who created a two-hour programme about HIV prevention for the 2006 International Children’s Day of Broadcasting.|
By Blue Chevigny
NEW YORK, USA, 30 March 2007 – Jorge Luis Contreras, 16, who lives in Esteli, northern Nicaragua, is an avid interviewer. For several years now, he has been part of Radio Cumiches, a youth radio group.
Along with 30 other young reporters at Cumiches, Jorge Luis is heard on the radio across Nicaragua. For the past few months, he has been recording interviews with local children using equipment provided by the Digital Diaries project of UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s global children’s forum.
Jorge Luis is interested in the issues that affect the everyday lives of children in his community. The interviews for his Digital Diary focus on the problems these young people face – such as gender discrimination, violence in the home and child rights. Most of the interviews are short, schoolyard conversations with children about their experiences.
Equal rights for boys and girls
In some cases, Jorge Luis has enlisted the help of his friend and fellow Radio Cumiches member, Edgar Castillo. For example, they both interviewed the principal of a neighbourhood school, Migdalia Rauh, asking her what she thought about parents who send their children to work rather than to classes.
“It’s not right,” said Ms. Rauh. “But unfortunately, because our society doesn’t have many economic resources, many parents find that the only solution is to send their children to work to solve their financial problems. But in reality – and according to our national constitution – it’s not right for children to have to work. They should live to study and enjoy their childhoods.”
Jorge Luis and Edgar also asked Ms. Rauh about gender discrimination in the schools.
“The difference between the genders doesn’t exist when it comes to school or what tasks students can complete,” she asserted. “Girls have just as much of a right to opportunities, and they can do things just as well. We shouldn’t discriminate. All children have the same rights.”
Impact of discriminations
Some of the girls interviewed by Jorge Luis said that boys in school discriminated against them. One girl, Carla, said she felt sad when she was treated unequally. “At times I thought the boys were more valuable than girls, and I had to be counselled that, no, they are the same,” she added.
Kyra, 11, told Jorge Luis that when boys excluded her she despaired and “felt like I wasn’t a person.”
All the children Jorge Luis interviewed said men and women – and boys and girls – should have equal rights. “There are people who don’t think women should be mayor or president,” said one of the girls, “but as long as they can do the job, sex has nothing to do with it.”
In other interviews, Jorge Luis talked with children about violence in the home and at school, asking what abuse meant to them.
Marisa, 11, said that she felt she had suffered verbal abuse from other children. “I felt very bad because they yelled at me, and I wanted to cry,” she recalled.
Jorge Luis is the latest participant in the UNICEF Digital Diaries programme. Digital Diarists in various countries provide UNICEF Radio and Voices of Youth with interviews and audio recordings on the issues that are important to them.