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Young women in India learn to express their views through film

The OneMinutesJr. is a youth arts initiative that teaches young people how to capture their viewpoints on video. The project, run by UNICEF and its partner, The One Minutes Foundation, has been producing one-minute videos since 2002. Click here for more information about the project.

By Anjali Singh

LUCKNOW, India, 14 December 2011 – Nineteen-year-old Laxmi Nishad had wanted for years to talk about the burden of caring for her five family members, including her alcoholic father. Her chance finally came at the OneMinutesJr. workshop organized by UNICEF in Lucknow, India.

VIDEO: Watch 'Me and My Life', produced by 19-year old Laxmi Nishad at UNICEF's OneMinutesJr. workshop in Lucknow, India.


Along with 14 of her classmates from Prerna Girls School, Laxmi was given the chance to create a one-minute video about her life, which she titled ‘Me and My Life.’

“My sister was just 11 months old when my mother died, and my father, who drinks all the time, refused to give us any money or even look after us,” says Laxmi. “So it was my responsibility to help the family survive. I was just 13, and I began to work as a housemaid in people’s homes to earn money. But I always yearned for a proper home, and I finally found it at the Prerna Girls School, where I study in now. I wanted to tell people my story and now I did that through the OneMinutesJr. workshop.”

The OneMinutesJr. is an arts-based initiative that teaches young people how to creatively express their views through video. During a five-day workshop, video artists from the One Minutes Foundation help youth participants each create one-minute films.

© UNICEF India/2011/Kapoor
Participants Arti Gupta, Nisha Gupta and Moni Kannaujia shoot a film in Lucknow, India, part of the OneMinutesJr. workshop.

‘I was able to speak my mind’

Eighteen-year-old Preeti Verma has always believed in the unfairness of dowry traditions, which obligate a bride’s family to pay a groom’s family. These practices can result in violence against women whose dowry payments are considered insufficient. Through Preeti’s one-minute film, she made the powerful point that women themselves are more valuable than any dowry.

“When we were asked at the workshop to think about the idea we would like to make a film on, I instantly chose to talk of the evils of the dowry system,” says Preeti. “Scripting, shooting and writing text for the film gave me such a reassurance that finally I was able to speak my mind and tell the society that dowry was wrong. It was a wonderful feeling.”

UNICEF, in partnership with The One Minutes Foundation, organizes OneMinuteJr. workshops around the world precisely for youth like Preeti.

“These workshops create an opportunity for young people’s voices to be heard,” explains Karen Cirillo, Executive Producer of Children’s Broadcasting Initiatives at UNICEF. “This is what we teach these young women, who learn to give voice to their thoughts. Each one of them has gone through an experience that they wanted to not only talk about but show the world as well. They came up with the ideas, drew the storyboards, filmed and directed the stories.”

© UNICEF India/2011/Jain
Workshop participants display their OneMinutesJr. certificates at the Children's Day screening.

Sharing films with the world

The young filmmakers showed their work at a public screening at the prominent Lal Bahadur Shastri Auditorium Ganna Sansthan on 14 November – India’s Children’s Day. All 14 films were watched and applauded by guests of honour and officials from newspapers, the government and private media houses.

"I never thought there would be so many people listening and watching to what I want to say,” said 17-year-old Renu Soni. Renu’s film, ‘Beyond Fear is Winning’, is about adolescents who fear participating in activities in society and school. “I, too, was always afraid of going on stage and now, as I take centre stage with my film, I am elated and so much more confident than before. I believe that I, too, can be an achiever."

“Uttar Pradesh has the largest population of children in the country,” said UNICEF Communication Specialist Atul Kumar, who initiated the workshop. “In fact, the number of children here is more than the population of many countries. So if change has to be brought about, we must begin from UP.

“The theme for this year’s workshop was ’All Children, All Rights’, which means that we must include all children, irrespective of their gender, caste, age, language and religion, and this workshop is just the beginning of many such initiatives to encourage children’s participation.”



Lucknow OneMinutesJr.

To watch all the videos from the Lucknow workshop, please click here.

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