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Miryam: an experienced representative for children at 11

© UNICEF/Susan Markisz
Miryam Cunduri, age 11, at the UN Special Session on Children in New York, May 2002.

In May 2002, Miryam Cunduri, then aged 11, was one of more than 600 young leaders from around the world who came to New York to participate in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Children.
Miryam lives in Providencia, a small village in Chimborazo province in Ecuador. She lives with her mother, Maria Manuela; her younger sister, Blanca Azucena; and her baby brother, Joan Sebastian.
"My home is close to one of the highest volcanoes of the world, Chimborazo," she says. "It is beautiful. I can see it every day."

All the people in her community are indigenous people and are proud of their customs. Almost all of the families work in agriculture and raise domestic cattle. Because there is not enough work, some families have moved to towns and cities. The majority of the village's children cannot go to high school because their parents cannot afford school supplies.

Representing indigenous children

When Miryam found out about the Parliament Organization of Indigenous Girls and Boys from Ecuador, she asked her mother to help her learn more about it. Later, her community sent her as the representative of the indigenous children of Providencia.
The First Parliament of Indigenous Girls and Boys from Ecuador was held in August 2000 in the city of Riobamba. It was a very important gathering for the indigenous children. Some 120 delegates from across the country participated with the support of KNH Ecuador, a non-governmental organization. It was during this event that Miryam learned about children's rights.

Miryam was chosen to be the General Secretary of Culture of the Parliament. Her responsibilities consisted of promoting her culture together with that of the rest of the country's children, to strengthen their identity as part of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country and to emphasize that all children have the same rights.

Miryam has participated in many events, including the Parliament Regional del Centro and the National Congress of Children and Young People of Ecuador. One of the outcomes of the National Congress was a dialogue with Ecuador's President, Gustavo Noboa.
An experienced delegate

Miryam was a delegate to the National Children's Assembly for children and young people's rights, where she was chosen to be the country's representative to the Special Session. She cares deeply about the rights of girls and boys, particularly the rights to education and protection against exploitation. She travelled to New York in June 2001 to attend a preparatory session for the Special Session.

At the Special Session she participated in the Children's Forum, which brought together young delegates of governments and accredited non-governmental organizations. The Forum gave children and young people an important opportunity to influence the outcome document of the Special Session.

"All the topics that we're going to discuss are going to be crucial for a better world, in which children must be among the leading actors," said Miryam.



Related links

Miryam shared her Special Session experience on our site in Spanish.
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