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UNICEF promotes positive representations of Roma children to overcome stigma and discrimination

© UNICEF Skopje / 2011
Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative at the Communication Symposium in Skopje in February 2011

SKOPJE, 15 February 2011 - The importance of using positive images when promoting the rights of children and combating discrimination and stigma was at the core of the discussions at a Communication Symposium on Positive Representations of Roma Children, held in Skopje today. 

“One of the most effective communication strategies for confronting discrimination and promoting social inclusion of Roma is to portray them in the same multidimensional way that we portray other members of society,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative.  “Images often reinforce stereotypes. All too often Roma children and their families are portrayed as being dependant on others rather than being contributing members of a broader society,” continued Mr. Yett.

The symposium bought communication and media professionals together with representatives from civil society organisations to discuss creative ways to overcome discrimination and stigma of Roma children and their families.

International children’s media and inclusion expert, Ms Barbara Kolucki, together with Pulitzer Prize and World Press Photo Award winning photojournalist John McConnico and journalist Sonja Miokovic, led discussions using photo essays developed during their weeklong mission in Roma communities in the country

Developed together with Roma communities – in collaboration with the NGO Sumnal – the essays capture the lives of young Roma children, the challenges they face and the opportunities that could transform their lives.  The essays build on the evidence that optimistic images that show people engaged and involved are more effective in changing behaviour and attitudes of the public at large than negative images that show people as being worthy of charity.

“When young children see the positive capacities of themselves and of others, they are more interested in cultivating inclusive relationships,” said Ms. Barbara Kolucki who has worked with UNICEF in the areas of child development and media in many countries throughout the world including countries in the CEE/CIS region.

The Communication Symposium was organized within the framework of the EU-UNICEF Roma Good Start Initiative (RGSI).  Funded by the European Union, the project aims to address measures to promote Early Childhood Development (ECD) as an entry point for fostering the social inclusion of Roma children.  In addition to being implemented in this country, the project will also be implemented in Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, and Spain.

The European Commission is the EU’s executive body
The European Union is made up of 27 Member States who have decided to gradually link together their know-how, resources and destinies.  Together, during a period of enlargement of 50 years, they have built a zone of stability, democracy and sustainable development whilst maintaining cultural diversity, tolerance and individual freedoms. The European Union is committed to sharing its achievements and its values with countries and peoples beyond its borders.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Suzie Pappas Capovska
Communications Officer, UNICEF Skopje
Tel: (02) 3231-150 (ext :127),  072  236 725


Irina Ivanovska
Tel: (02) 3231-150 (ext :107), 072  236 722



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