BANGKOK, 29 June 2018 – More than 100 Thai youth came together this week to stage a series of performances in a bid to amplify the voices of children and youth across Thailand on issues that affect their lives and well-being.
The young performers included university and tertiary education students from across the country who participated in the Act Out Loud x U-Report: Voice of New Generation performing arts contest. Organized by U-Report Thailand and Bangkok University Performing Arts Department, the four-day camp aims to promote the rights of children and youth in Thailand to participate and express opinions freely, which are universal rights as stated under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.
The stage performances featured thought-provoking dramatic plays, dances and musicals which captured issues that matter most to young people, including sexual health, education, corruption and violence. The performances also reflected the findings of U-Report polls, an online platform initiated by UNICEF to support youth engagement and participation, which gathered opinions of over 9,200 youth across Thailand on the four topics.
“The power of young people’s voices, together with their robust energy, creativity and imagination can truly transform our society,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand during the performing arts contest at Bangkok University on Thursday. “We need to create an environment where they are empowered to meaningfully and actively engage in issues affecting them. When young people are given such space, the whole society benefits”.
The U-Report, a real-time and powerful two-way communication tool, can contribute as the go-to platform for youth across Thailand to make their voices heard through online polls and activities, and for adults to better understand and connect with the younger generations, Davin added.
“The Act Out Loud x U-Report gained high interest from youth who see themselves as someone who can truly contribute to and shape our society,” said Assoc. Prof. Punnasak Sukee, Chairperson of Bangkok University Theatre Company and Head of Bangkok University Performing Arts Department. “This contest which is now in its fifth year, provides space where Thai youth can reflect their ideas through performing arts. It has shown their sharp perspectives on social issues that adults must pay attention to.”
A recent U-Report poll on sexual health found that about 3 in 4 of Thai youth surveyed believe it is appropriate for women to a carry a condom. At the same time, about half said that they will not discuss sexual health with their parents for fear of not being accepted if they have premarital sex.
In a separate U-Report poll on violence, about 61 per cent of youth surveyed said that they have experienced a form of violence at home, while 46 per cent viewed it as something ‘normal’. The findings are in line with the national survey on situation of children and women in Thailand conducted by the National Statistical Office in 2015-2016, which found that nearly half of the parents surveyed believe physical punishment is necessary to discipline a child.
As for education, 70 per cent of young people surveyed in a U-Report poll said that they wanted more opportunity to co-design their school curriculum with their teachers.
Pantakit Limthianlee, a student at Srinakharinwirot University won the performing arts contest, who received the grand prize granted by Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali. Pantakit’s performance portrayed his personal experience when he was having a difficulty discussing sex topic with his parents.
“I hope that more Thai youth can discuss about sexual health with their parents,” Pantakit said. “Talking to each other helps create bonding and understanding in the family. It will also help address sexual health and reproductive health challenges facing young people.”
About U-Report Thailand
In an effort to promote opportunities for children and youth to express their views freely and make informed decisions as engaged citizens, UNICEF initiated U-Report Thailand in 2016.
U-Report is a social messaging tool which uses RapidPro back-end system to connect with Facebook Messenger as a channel to send out polls to gather adolescent and youth voices on various issues. U-Report is similarly supported by UNICEF in 38 countries with over 5.2 million users worldwide. In Thailand, there are more than 9,200 users with the majority being 15-24 years old, and an average poll response rate of 30%.
The poll results are then used to support evidence-based policy planning and implementation by UNICEF and partners, which include government agencies, NGOS and youth networks, to create positive change.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.