UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Japan Agnes Chan reflects on her trip to Niger

The Japanese pop singer, television personality and doctor of education visited Niger to contribute to UNICEF’s advocacy efforts in the country

By Juan Haro
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Japan Agnes Chan reflects on her trip to Niger
UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro

17 July 2019

Meeting Nigerien children was a pure joy to me. 

Their smiles and energy were inspirational. 

Adequate education and careful family planning can propel the next generation to new heights. 

As a crucial transit point of migrants, much help is needed to protect these children. 

Traditions and new ideas must work hand in hand to allow progress. 

I wish all Nigerien children can fulfill their potential and live a happy and meaningful life.’

Agnes Chan
 


The Japanese pop singer, television personality and doctor of education visited Niger to contribute to UNICEF’s advocacy efforts and programmes in Niger.
UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Japan, Agnes Chan, has ended a seven-day mission in Niamey and Zinder regions where she witnessed the challenges faced by Niger’s children, particularly the most vulnerable ones.
The community of Kantché welcomed Mrs. Agnes Chan to share testimonies about the exodus of migrant children and mothers to Algeria to practice begging in the streets. Niger is a source country for migrants to Algeria, mostly consisting of adults (often women) accompanied by young children. Most of them are from Kantché District in Zinder Region. Migrant children and women, especially those without documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation.
UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
The community of Kantché welcomed Mrs. Agnes Chan to share testimonies about the exodus of migrant children and mothers to Algeria to practice begging in the streets. Niger is a source country for migrants to Algeria, mostly consisting of adults (often women) accompanied by young children. Most of them are from Kantché District in Zinder Region. Migrant children and women, especially those without documentation, are vulnerable to trafficking, abuse and exploitation.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
´We need to empower young girls to make them feel stronger and protected to take their own decisions. Sustainable development won´t be achieved if we don’t stop child marriage first´ said UNICEF Japan Goodwill Ambassador Agnes Chan during a meeting with young girls in Kantché, Zinder, to exchange about child marriage issues and girl’s rights.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
Agnes Chan met a UNICEF-supported Child Protection Committee in the commune of Dogo, in Zinder region, to know more about child marriage and community-based child protection activities in the ground.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
Girls engaged with Japan Goodwill Ambassador during her field visit in Kantché, Zinder. UNICEF works across sectors to support strategies that address child marriage across Niger.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
A UNICEF Niger Team accompanies Agnes Chan during the visit in a Vocational Training Center (CFM) in Zinder. These centers provide learning opportunities for out of school to be productive instead of succumbing to immigration in the region. UNICEF supports the vocational skills of Kantche, as well as other zones with high out-of-school rate in Niger
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
Agnes Chan, UNICEF Japan Goodwill Ambassador, met the ‘Chef de Canton’ in Kantché to reaffirm her support to traditional and religious leaders in the fight against child marriage.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
On her last day in the field Chan visited an Alternative Education Centre in Tanout, Zinder. The Alternative Education Center caters for children who have not been able to enter the formal education system on time.
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UNICEF Niger/2019/JHaro
Agnes Chan during her debriefing with Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger, after her field visit in Zinder region. The UNICEF Japan GWA highlighted the importance of family planning, the work with religious leaders, and the need for change on some social norms as powerful tools to reduce inequality in Niger.

Agnes Chan Miling was born in Hong Kong and started her singing career when she was 14. She debuted in Hong Kong, and then, in Japan in 1972 with the hit song "Hinageshi no Hana", which brought her to pop idol status. After studying at Sophia University in Japan, she entered the University of Toronto and graduated with a degree in developmental psychology. In 1984, deemed the International Year of the Youth, she received the IYY award for an essay written about world peace.

Activities as UNICEF Ambassador 

In 1998, Agnes was appointed to be the first Ambassador of the Japan Committee for UNICEF based on her inspirational work and dedication to the lives of children. Since then, she has undertaken annual visits to see UNICEF programmes around the world and report on children’s issues to the Japanese publicIn 2016, Agnes was appointed to be UNICEF Regional Ambassador for East Asia and the Pacific Region.

Trips includeThailand (1998), South Sudan (1999), Timor (2000), the Philippines (2001), Cambodia (2002), Iraq (2003), Moldova (2004), Sudan-Darfur (2005), Lesotho (2006), India (2007), China (2008), Burkina Faso (2009), Somalia (2010), the Earthquake/Tsunami affected areas in Japan (2011), Bhutan (2012), Nigeria (2013), Central African Republic (2014), South Sudan (2015), Fiji (2016), Guatemala (2016), Jordan/Lebanon/Turkey (2017) and Ukraine (2018) Niger (2019). She has focused on thematic areas such as education, child marriage, stunting, armed conflicts, HIV/AIDS, emergencies, climate change and uprooted.   

UNICEF finds new chances for safe, reliable education thanks to support from the Japan Government. In 2019, the Government of Japan commits additional US$2.2 million to help UNICEF accelerate its humanitarian assistance to women and children affected by conflict in Niger.