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2011 International Children's Day of Broadcasting examines gender roles

‘Girls are… Boys are…’

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-0416/Pirozzi
Johnson Maisiri, 16, and his sister Fortune, 17, share household chores while their brother Janius, 3, sits beside them in front of their thatched-roof house in Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe. Johnson, a member of the youth group Young People We Care, is an AIDS activist and peer counsellor.

NEW YORK, USA, 4 March 2011 – This Sunday, broadcasters around the world will show special programmes and feature young people’s opinions to mark the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB), an annual UNICEF initiative begun in 1991 to encourage quality children’s programming and the participation of young people in the media.

The theme of this year’s ICDB – ‘Girls are… Boys are…’ – will examine what innate behaviours, abilities and interests correspond to being a boy or girl, and gender limitations placed on young people.

Unique perspectives

Adolescence is a time of change as girls and boys mature into adulthood and often pre-set gender roles. It’s important for young people to see and hear their peers expressing who they are and what gender means to them.

Broadcasters can celebrate the day in whatever form best fits their programming and capacities. Diverse participating radio and television stations are set to bring their own unique perspectives.

Youth Media Guyana, for example, is producing a special 30-minute TV production that examines ‘Girls Are… Boys Are…’ from a youth perspective. The theme fits in well with exploring gender role descriptions sung during a Guyanese childhood hand game:

Boys are rotten made out of cotton,
Girls are sexy made out of Pepsi.
Boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider,
Girls go to Mars to be superstars.

The rhyme should prove an interesting starting point for discussion. “We hope to examine this early socialization as adolescents share their views on gender roles in society and how they see themselves as boys and girls,” says Youth Media Guyana coordinator Andrea Bryan.

Role of the media

Meanwhile, the national Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation has allocated about five hours of programming to children’s issues. It will begin with an address by UNICEF Representative in Zimbabwe Dr. Peter Salama, who will talk about the media’s role in promoting child rights, and other issues.

Zimbabwean children will present programmes featuring phone-ins and quizzes, prizes for which have been donated by UNICEF. Other programmes include a drama on gender-based violence, produced by the youth-led organization Young People We Care in the city of Bulawayo.

The drama depicts a father forcing his young daughters into early marriages to ease the family’s financial woes.

Conversations and phone-ins

Elsewhere, Radio Arakozia in Afghanistan is planning to broadcast a special one-hour show on the ICDB with only child presenters and guests. The station, which broadcasts in more than 11 Pashtu-speaking provinces – including some of the country’s most war-torn and remote areas – will feature boys and girls playing games separately and examine why they cannot be played together.

There will be a 15-minute live phone-in for Afghan children to discuss on air the differences between girls and boys, why they haven’t played together in the past, and whether and how they should. The aim is to promote ideas of gender equality among children – in particular, that they should play by the same rules and can do many of the same things.

Broadcast media around Gambia will also mark this year’s ICDB. One partner, Young People in the Media in Gambia, is set to feature conversations between adults and young people on pertinent issues such as education, child protection, child labour, child health, and cultural practices like early marriage.

These are just some of the ways that broadcasters have embraced the ICDB and agreed to get more young people involved in the media process. To read more updates from broadcasters around the world, please visit our ICDB blog at www.uniceficdb.wordpress.com.



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