Young Participants hailing from some of the remotest parts of India sharing their inspiring and hopeful experiences at the “Listening to Adolescents” workshop held in New Delhi.
By Geetanjali Master
NEW DELHI, 3 March 2010 – Her face lit up with joy as 14 year old Chanda Chandni from a remote village in Bihar spoke about her experiences. It was inspiring to listen to her voice as she shared thoughts on how she felt more confident of being a girl, as a result of the various participatory processes in her village.
“I wished I was a boy, but now I am proud to be a girl. I strongly believe that it is my right to participate in decisions which impact my life. Now people listen to me and I cherish that.” said Chanda.
When young people from some of the remotest parts of India came together for a consultation called “Listening to Adolescents” held in New Delhi on 3 and 4 February 2010, they shared some inspiring and hopeful experiences on how being able to participate positively impacted their lives.
During the two day workshop, participatory methodologies were used to ensure active participation by the young people and this allowed for greater interaction amongst them.
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The workshop was facilitated by UNICEF and Media Matters, an NGO specializing in working with young people.
Innovative and diverse tools were used to engage the young participants, who came from different parts of the country, spoke different languages and had different socio-economic backgrounds.
Favas. K from Cochin in Kerala shared enthusiastically how this consultation had been a unique experience for him.
“This is the first workshop I have attended where I was given the opportunity of interacting with other young people from all the parts of India, which is almost like a continent. I have learnt about issues of other children and realized that by coming together we can be stronger, which has been an empowering experience.”
Young people discussed among themselves and shared with the larger group what they thought had changed, both at the personal level and for the local community as a result of their association with the programmes promoting children and young people’s participation.
In this context they spoke particularly about how the various participatory processes that have resulted in enhanced knowledge and skills around key issues.
Sharing her experiences, Shilpa Adelkar from Mumbai in Maharashtra said “I have learnt about so many basic behavioral and social practices such as handwashing, breastfeeding, prevention of early marriage, which if followed will save the lives of many in my community. I can now become the catalyst in bringing about the much needed change.”
The young people discussed and presented their views on participation in the family, school, community and in their own groups. The presentations brought forth a wide array of views and highlighted the need gaps.
Bittu Prasad from Kolkatta articulated the challenges by sharing his views “We need to understand our rights and entitlements in a friendly manner. Only then will we be able to demand and initiate the correct action.
And for us to become the true agents of change, all adults associated with us need to be explained the importance of participation.”
“What young people have to say is of great essence for us and our work,” said UNICEF Representative in India Karin Hulshof.
“All young people are the future of this country and what they think, say and do will greatly impact the progress of India. The hope and positive spirit of young people will ensure that the future generation survives and thrives,” Ms Hulshof added.
Listening to the voices of young people on their rights and how they participate in their daily lives will guide UNICEF India’s work with young people across programmes.
Participation is a fundamental human right enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which affirms children as rights holders entitled to expression and involvement in decisions that affect them.