Media observatory in child rights in Tamil Nadu

Thozhamai, a resource organization focused on child rights, has recognized a significant issue in how violence against children is reported in the media in India. In response, Thozhamai has proposed a series of activities aimed at sensitizing media professionals on the proper reporting guidelines. These proposed activities align with various UNICEF programs and seek to educate journalists on established standards and best practices for reporting such incidents.

Conducting awareness workshops for both electronic and print media professionals, focusing specifically on the reporting of violence against children.

Providing media professionals with resource materials outlining guidelines for reporting on violence against children, serving as reference points for sensitive and responsible reporting.

Offering support and assistance to local vernacular media that may not be familiar with existing guidelines, including direct engagement, training sessions, and ongoing guidance.

Integrating efforts with UNICEF programs such as End Violence, Anaemia, First 1000 Days, Measles & Rubella Campaign, Digital Safety, and Impact of Climate Change on Children, among others, to leverage existing networks and resources for maximum impact. Through these initiatives, Thozhamai aims to promote responsible and sensitive reporting practices within the media, ultimately contributing to the protection and well-being of children in India.

UNICEF partners meet

UNICEF Partners convened for a meeting with Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, the Country Representative of UNICEF India, on November 16, 2017. This gathering brought together various stakeholders associated with UNICEF's field office for Tamil Nadu and Kerala, including representatives from state government bodies, commissions, civil society organizations, academic institutions, grassroots NGOs, and others. Participants from different sectors of UNICEF's work, including health, nutrition, education, child protection, advocacy, and communication, were in attendance.

During the meeting, Dr. Haque discussed global and national developments within UNICEF's scope of work. She emphasized the significance of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India and shared insights into how different countries are progressing toward this common goal. Additionally, she outlined the collaboration between UNICEF's country office and the central government, as well as the interaction of various field offices with state governments. Dr. Haque underscored the priorities of UNICEF India and expressed gratitude to the partners for their dedication to advancing UNICEF's mission.

Following brief introductions by each participant regarding their respective roles, attendees had the opportunity to share highlights, best practices, and challenges encountered in their fieldwork. This exchange facilitated open dialogue, allowing participants to engage directly with Dr. Haque, who addressed their inquiries, comments, and suggestions. Partners also shared their visions for creating a better world for children and discussed ways in which UNICEF could contribute to this collective effort.

The celebration of World Children’s Day 2017

The celebration of World Children’s Day 2017 marked a significant moment with the appointment of renowned actor, Ms. Trisha Krishnan, as UNICEF Celebrity Advocate. This announcement took place during the inaugural celebration of World Children’s Day on November 20, 2017, commemorating the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. The event gathered children, civil society organizations, government representatives, academics, college students, and media personnel.

Ms. Trisha Krishnan's appointment as UNICEF Celebrity Advocate marked a historic occasion as she became the first actor from South India to receive this designation. Following the announcement, children had the opportunity to engage directly with Ms. Krishnan, and she also interacted with members of the media.

The theme of World Children’s Day, "Children Take Over," empowered children from various schools to assume leadership roles within their educational institutions and even at a radio station for a day. Despite notable progress in recent decades, sobering statistics reveal ongoing challenges, including 385 million children living in extreme poverty, 264 million children and youth out of school, and 5.6 million children under the age of five succumbing to preventable causes last year.

On November 20, the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children worldwide united to advocate for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable among them. They assumed diverse roles such as principals, teachers, technicians at schools, and station managers, radio jockeys, and technicians at the radio station, showcasing their capabilities and solidarity for children's rights.

The release of UNICEF's annual flagship publication, the "State of World's Children" Report

The release of UNICEF's annual flagship publication, the "State of World's Children" Report, took place on December 11, 2017, at Stella Maris College in Chennai. The event was attended by various dignitaries, including government officials, representatives from civil society organizations, children, teachers, parents, college students, and members of the media.

Notable figures present at the event included Dr. Nirmala, the chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, renowned magician Mr. Gopinath Muthukad, and Mr. Job Zachariah, Chief of Field Office for UNICEF in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The dignitaries emphasized the importance of investing in children, and Mr. Zachariah provided an overview of the report's findings.

Mr. Muthukad creatively addressed the importance of addressing issues faced by vulnerable children through his magic performances. Additionally, Mr. Sugata Roy, Communication Specialist at UNICEF, and Mr. G. Kumaresan, Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, emphasized the significance of child protection and fielded questions from the audience.

College students from various institutions in the city actively participated in the program, gaining awareness of the challenges faced by children and learning how they can contribute to addressing these issues. The media present at the event were also briefed on the key points discussed during the program.

Youth Advocate for Children - YouthCamp

UNICEF organized a pioneering three-day camp from May 28 to 30, 2018, aimed at cultivating a cadre of youth advocates dedicated to championing the rights of children in Tamil Nadu. This camp brought together selected students from colleges across the state, primarily from renowned social work institutions. The 40 students chosen for the camp participated in various sessions focused on topics such as child rights, child abuse, different forms of abuse, social media usage, online safety, child protection issues, and strategies for addressing child labor, child marriage, and child sexual abuse.

Through interactive group activities, discussions, and presentations, the students gained a deeper understanding of the prevalent violations of child rights in their communities. They also shared personal experiences related to encountering violations of child rights in their surroundings.

At the conclusion of the camp, the students collectively pledged to combat child rights violations both as individuals and as a group. They formulated action plans to ensure the fulfillment of children's rights, guided by the insights provided by resource persons such as Mr. Sugata Roy, Communications Specialist at UNICEF, Mr. Kumaresan, Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, and Mr. Devaneyan and Mr. Andrew Sesuraj.

The pledge adopted by the youth advocates underscores their commitment to advocate for every child's right, recognizing survival, development, protection, and participation as fundamental rights. They vow to stand up for children, raise awareness, speak out against injustices, and work tirelessly to amplify the voices of children to combat violence and ensure a safer world for them.

Anti-Child Labour Day celebrations

The World Day Against Child Labour, observed annually on June 12th worldwide, serves as a poignant reminder of the urgent need to eradicate the scourge of child labour. In line with this global initiative, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Department of Labour, Government of Tamil Nadu, organized a series of events to mark the occasion.

The day commenced with Ms. Trisha Krishnan, UNICEF celebrity advocate, leading a rally and launching a signature campaign aimed at ending child labour. Dignitaries from the Government of Tamil Nadu, notably from the Department of Labour, including Mr. Mangat Ram Sharma, IAS, Principal Secretary, Labour, and Dr. Nandagopal, IAS, Commissioner of Labour, were in attendance. Additionally, representatives from civil society organizations, students, and children participated in the rally.

During her address, Ms. Trisha Krishnan underscored the detrimental effects of child labour on children and emphasized that it constitutes a form of abuse and violence against them. She urged the community to unite with the Government of Tamil Nadu and UNICEF in their collective efforts to combat this crime. Ms. Trisha also provided the latest statistics on child labour to the media and expressed gratitude to the Labour Department for its ongoing initiatives to eradicate child labour.

Role of Youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

An orientation session was held for Youth Advocates for Children (YA4C) focusing on their participation in a panel discussion addressing the Role of Youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This discussion took place on July 25, 2018, at the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development in Sriperumbudur, with selected youth advocates from Stella Maris College, Chennai, participating.

Recognizing that youth comprise a significant portion of the population both in India and globally, their involvement is crucial in realizing the objectives outlined in the 2030 agenda. The panel discussion, organized by the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD), aimed to highlight the indispensable role of youth in advancing the SDGs. Participants included representatives from various UN agencies, development organizations, civil society, government officials, students, and the media.

During the discussion, the youth advocates passionately articulated their commitment to child rights and emphasized that achieving the SDGs necessitates the inclusion of all individuals, including children. They emphasized that children are not only integral members of society but also represent the future of the nation and the world. Therefore, it is imperative to protect them from vulnerabilities and exploitation. The advocates raised awareness about various violations of child rights, such as child sexual abuse, child labor, child marriage, and online abuse, and called for collective action to end violence against children.

State level residential Media workshop for Journalists of Tamil Nadu on Role of Journalists in ending violence against children.

A state-level residential media workshop focusing on the "Role of Journalists in Ending Violence against Children (EVAC)" was held from January 23 to 25, 2019, in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. This workshop brought together journalists from various media outlets across Tamil Nadu. The sessions were led by prominent figures such as Sugata Roy, Communication Specialist from UNICEF, Devaneyan Arasu, Director from Thozhamai, and Ajit Daniels, Consultant from UNICEF.

The workshop aimed to educate journalists about their role in ending violence against children, with a particular focus on understanding and implementing laws such as the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Sandhiyan and Kavya from AWARE India NGO shared case studies and facilitated group discussions with journalists, emphasizing the importance of covering sensitive children's topics and providing more visibility to issues related to children.

Over 35 journalists participated in the workshop, engaging in interactive sessions and discussions with the panel members. The objectives of the workshop included orienting journalists on child rights and protection, enabling them to understand the various issues affecting children, creating a platform for journalists to learn how to report on children's issues effectively, and fostering an environment conducive to ensuring the safety of children in society.

Sugata Roy and A. Devaneyan conducted sessions on child rights and protection, with Sugata Roy also leading a session specifically on the JJ and POCSO Acts. Sandhiyan and Kavya shared their experiences through case studies, while Devaneyan actively engaged with the journalists during discussions.

Additionally, district-level media workshops for journalists across Tamil Nadu were also organized, further emphasizing the importance of media engagement in addressing child rights issues at various levels of society.

Media, Young people and Celebrity Engagement for EVAC & ECD in Tamil Nadu

From June 2019 to February 2020, Stella Maris College's UNICEF ON CAMPUS CLUB organized a series of impactful events and initiatives. The journey commenced with planning meetings for the club's formation on June 24, July 12, and July 24, 2019. Subsequently, the club hosted a thought-provoking movie screening and panel discussion on the documentary "Period. End of Sentence" at Sathyam Cinemas on July 31, 2019, followed by its official inauguration on August 1, 2019. Demonstrating their dedication to social causes, the club members staged a street play addressing violence against children at Mohammed Sathak College on August 7, 2019, and launched a campaign against child marriage in Semmencherry on August 24, 2019. Further highlighting their commitment, the club facilitated interactions between UNICEF celebrity advocate Trisha and the Stella Maris College Youth Advocates for Children (YA4C) on August 28, 2019, and organized a field visit to Children Sangam, coupled with insightful discussions, on August 29, 2019. The club's efforts extended internationally with their participation in the South Asia Parliamentarian Platform for Children conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on September 2 and 3, 2019. Additionally, they conducted informative sessions, media roundtable discussions, and participative programs aimed at advocating for child rights and ending violence against children throughout the period. These endeavors underscore the club's unwavering commitment to championing the rights and well-being of children.