Ideas of Young People Worthy of Adult Attention were Discussed in the Capital at UNICEF Talks

The UNICEF Talks Youth Conference was held under the Jastar Üni motto

12 November 2022
Участники UNICEF Talks
UNICEF Kazakhstan 2022

ASTANA, November 12, 2022 – The UNICEF Talks Youth Conference organized by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in a town hall format was held in Astana today under the Jastar Üni motto. The Conference launched the celebration of World Children's Day in Kazakhstan, celebrated annually on November 20, the day the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the “Convention”) was adopted in 1989. Kazakhstan ratified the Convention in 1994, the same year UNICEF began its activities to protect the rights of Kazakhstani children.

UNICEF Talks provides children and young people with an open platform to exercise their rights to freely speak out and express their views on any issues affecting their interests.

Eight speakers aged 15 to 24, school and university students, shared their stories and experiences of overcoming important problems in modern society. Aida, a schoolgirl from Almaty openly living with HIV since age 6, discussed how social stigmas can negatively affect life and how discrimination exists even among close friends. Akmaral, a graduate of the Atameken children's village and current journalism student, continued the discussion on social stigmas. Akmaral discussed the stereotypes that exist in our society by recalling how children brought up in children’s homes often face unfounded accusations of theft. Now, Akmaral actively fights against these sterotypical accusations and protects the interests and rights of vulnerable children.

Orisim, a graduate of KazNU, also overcame common stereotypes by deciding to build her own nanosatellite and choose an engineering specialty. By her example, which includes launching a nanosatellite into the stratosphere, Orisim showed how girls' aptitide for technical specialties are equal to boys' and how professional choices cannot be limited by gender stereotypes.

Akbota, a young girl with a visual disability, motivated guests of UNICEF Talks with her optimism and ability to overcome difficulties and achieve success despite facing hardships. Diana, who was impacted by nuclear explosions in the Semipalatinsk region, became a UNICEF volunteer and organized an international project on the socialization of children with disabilities. With the help of project mentors, children can identify their interests and develop their talents.

"Our voice must be heard!" said Medina and Fatima, Almaty high school students, activists, and creators of the Youth Council of Kazakhstan volunteer movement. With their active social activities, the girls defend children’s right to be heard and

their stance that children’s opinions must be taken into account. Alikhan also struggled to get adults to listen to his opinion. As a schoolboy in his hometown of Kyzylzhar, he achieved useful changes [ ] and continues to defend his right to live in a comfortable, child-friendly city.

"The UNICEF motto is “Nothing about Us without Us.” It means that any decisions about children and youth, including at the state level, shall be made taking into account, first of all, the interests and opinions of children and youth. Whether it's environmental policy, urban planning, or school meals – everywhere we have something to say. We, being young people, care about what kind of world we live in in the future. We see it as equal and inclusive. A world where there is no place for social stigmas, discrimination and harassment. With the help of our speakers at UNICEF Talks, we were able to look into this world – the world called ‘Tomorrow.’ UNICEF and I urge all adults not to wait for ‘Tomorrow,’ but to make the world like this today," suggested Dinara Saduakasova, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Kazakhstan.

"World Children's Day is a day that unites the whole world with a single goal – that every child can live in safety, learn and realize his/her potential. On this day, all over the world, UNICEF helps children and young people to make their voices heard and their opinions matter. Very often, the right of children to express their views on issues concerning their interests is not given due attention. Here, at UNICEF Talks, this right has been exercised. Our speakers have shared their ideas, which I hope will inspire many of their peers," said Arthur van Diesen, UNICEF Representative in Kazakhstan.

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