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20th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Teenagers show their world and lives through images
‘Do you see my world?’ an exhibition showcasing photos by adolescents launched today

Dhaka, 22 November 2009. To mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF together with the European Commission delegation in Bangladesh and Pathshala, South Asian Institute of Photography, today launched a photo exhibition showcasing the works of three groups of adolescents from Jamalpur, Chapainawabganj and Barguna districts in rural Bangladesh.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Dr. Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Secretary, Ministry of Information. Other special guests included Dr Stefan Frowein, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh; Mr Carel De Rooy, Bangladesh Country Representative, UNICEF; and Dr Shahidul Alam, Principal, Pathshala and curator of the exhibition. The 30 young photographers also attended the event. 

Under the title 'Do you see my world?', the photo exhibition highlights the unique experiences and the challenges faced by adolescents, boys and girls, who live in rural Bangladesh. The aim of this unique initiative was to inspire adolescents to tell their own stories using photography as a tool and to raise awareness on the challenges they are facing. The result was a striking collection of photographs that express the beauty and tragedy of these adolescents’ everyday lives. Their work is also captured in a book, which was launched at the event.

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, our first commitment is to give an avenue to young people so they can show us and tell us about their lives, about their hopes and fears”, said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative.  “In doing this, we are realizing one of the key rights of children: the right to participate and express their views. This exhibition is the result of this commitment. It is a simple invitation to open our eyes and begin to see their world.”

The exhibition is the result of a three-month project. Thirty young people, aged 14 to 18, received a five-day photographic training course and were given a digital camera for a week. In that week, they took about 9,000 pictures and were fully involved in selecting, editing and writing the captions of the images.

Those adolescents are participating in a longer-term project supported by UNICEF and funded by the European Union which aims to empower about 100,000 adolescents. The project is implemented under the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs.

“Social progress can only be achieved when children’s rights are high in the political agenda and addressed as a systematic and distinct concern”, said Dr Stefan Frowein, Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh. “We are glad to see that the Government of Bangladesh is committed to addressing children`s rights in the years to come. We hope that it will live up to its commitments and fulfill as many as possible of the recommendations made to Bangladesh in June this year by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.”

Shahidul Alam, the curator of the exhibition, was impressed by the quality and freshness of the pictures: “Pictures were created with remarkable composition. Balanced frames with well-placed elements formed stylised images that a trained photographer would have been proud of, but we had underestimated their instincts. Our fears of over intrusion were unfounded. The most striking images resulted not from our training, but because they had a voice. They could now tell their own stories and no one was going to get in their way, not even their teachers.”

After the launch in Dhaka the exhibition will then travel to the three districts where the adolescent photographers come from. The photo exhibition will also tour some parts of Dhaka and rural communities with a mobile version on rickshaw van and bullock cart.

The launch was also streamed live on the web at Please visit the site to have a look at the image gallery and project details. A photo essay is also available on

Exhibition details:

Dhaka: Drik Gallery, Dhanmondi, 23-27 November, 3-8pm everyday
Jamalpur: Public library, Bakultola, 6-11 December, 10am-4pm everyday
Chapainwabaganj: Nawabaganj Town Club, 17-22 December, 10am-4pm
Barguna: TNO Office complex, 7 December 2009-1 January, 2010, 10am–4pm

For more information, please contact:

• Christine Jaulmes, UNICEF Chief Communication, e-mail: ; tel: 9336701
• Anjum Aziz, Delegation of the European Commission to Bangladesh, e-mail: ; tel: 882 47 30
• Jeevani Fernando, Pathshala, Manager, e-mail:; Tel: 01921396997



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