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Capturing voices of Born-free Generation through mobile phones

Why November 2009?

November 2009 was significant for children and young people in Namibia. Firstly, the 3rd Presidential and Parliamentary Elections took place in this month, and a large number of young people voted for the first time. Secondly, November 2009 also celebrates the 20th birthday of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The two occasions were interlinked. Article 12 of the CRC reminds us of the role of the State and of adults in facilitating the participation of children and young people in decision-making processes on matters that affect their lives, and that capturing young people’s voice through election processes presents the best opportunity.

What did we aim for?

We aimed to capture the voices and the perspectives of children and young people regarding the issues that affect their lives today and tomorrow. These opinions were documented and presented to the Children’s Parliament in 2010 where young people themselves discussed topics and make recommendations to the parliamentarians for consideration.

Who did we target?

We wanted to reach out to the “Born-free Generation” of children and young people of Namibia. They are the vibrant young people who were born after Namibia gained Independence, born free of oppression and control. While the Elections provided the opportunity to express people’s choices through exercising their voting rights, those who were under 18 also had the fundamental right to make themselves heard in ensuring a better Namibia for all. Therefore, this initiative aims to provide the space for the ‘born-frees’ to voice their choices. 

What did we want to hear?

Based on fundamental rights enshrined in the CRC and the areas of focus for Government of Namibia and UNICEF Namibia cooperation, the following issues were highlighted as the most pressing themes for young Namibians: Education, HIV/AIDS, Health/Nutrition, Child Protection, and “Your Future” (which includes the issues of employment, participation and environment). Specific topics under these broad themes were selected through focus group discussion with young people. 

How did we do this?

To effectively capture the young people’s voices, a communication tool that is most accessed by them will be used: mobile phones. One is able to make a call from anywhere and at anytime. In addition, it was simple and anonymous. Instead of a conventional SMS-based campaign, a new technology called Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System was used. The IVR allowed one to make toll-free calls, listen to instructions in the languages of one’s choice, and choose the opinion that is closest to her/his view. At the end of the call, they were also able to SMS with additional opinion. Moreover, those who have participated will have a chance to win a prize based on lottery. 



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