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Communication pour le développement

Mobilisation sociale

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© UNICEF/HQ07-0486/Christine Nesbitt
NIGERIA: An imam, or Muslim religious leader, speaks to the community about the importance of immunization for children.

Social mobilization in UNICEF is defined as a process that engages and motivates a wide range of partners and allies at national and local levels to raise awareness of and demand for a particular development objective through face-to-face dialogue. Members of institutions, community networks, civic and religious groups and others work in a coordinated way to reach specific groups of people for dialogue with planned messages. In other words, social mobilization seeks to facilitate change through a range of players engaged in interrelated and complementary efforts.

Two examples of effective social mobilization come from Colombia. The first was the Juanita Campaign in 1988. This initiative used the image of a 10-year-old girl to represent all Colombian children. Called "Juanita" for the purposes of the campaign, the girl's letter and photograph appeared in the press, on radio and television, and in large posters on squares all over the country. Her letter was converted to a leaflet with information to sensitize each of the mayoral candidates and their immediate political colleagues to the problems facing children in Colombia. The underlying premise of the slogan was that democracy is fundamentally local and that effective action and accountability can be assured only when issues and actors are rooted locally.

The second example is that from a decade later, when peace efforts were still fragmented and the peace movement remained weak. 1n 1996, the Children's Movement for Peace emerged with young people working as individuals or in small groups, often at great risk. It led to the UNICEF supported Children's Mandate for Peace and Rights in which 2.7 million children voted overwhelmingly for their rights to life and peace. In 1997, the Citizen's Mandate brought 10 million adult Colombians to the polls, who backed the Children's Mandate and pledged their own commitment to peace making. In 1998, with a manifesto based on both mandates Andres Pastrana swept to power in the Colombian Presidential elections.

At community level, children involved in the peace movement organized and participated in art, play and environmental workshops to help those (children) affected by violence. Several municipalities elected Child Mayors to their councils as advocates for peace and children's participation. The Movement remained informal for several years, involving a wide range of organizations including the Scouts, Guides and Colombian Red Cross, while striving to build unity among young people across racial, economic, and geographic barriers. [Further reading: Working for and with Adolescents, UNICEF (2002), pp 34-41.]



Soldiers of Peace: A Children's Crusade

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