India is home to 17% of the world’s children, going by the 2011 census, and has the world’s largest child population. Despite this, children, are often neglected and their rights ignored. Of the 430 million children in India, an estimated 55% – a staggering 236.5 million – currently experience rights violations, going by various child-rights studies.
However, reporting around Child Rights or the absence of them remains largely rhetorical and incidental. Children’s voices get visibility in the media only when incidental violence takes place. Popularly, children are seen as non-voters and perceived to be seen as voiceless. But we believe that children are not future citizens of the country, but are citizens of the country.
Today, we live in a world where children’s vulnerability to everyday violence like child marriage, infant mortality, female foeticide, negligence, sexual abuse and malnutrition is steadily on the rise due to developmental pressures like migration, water and agrarian crisis, climate change and conflict. We seek to build sustained, vibrant and quality reporting about these non-sensational issues by highlighting children’s realities in their own voices and with dignity.
About In the Limelight: In The Limelight is a UNICEF and Charkha collaboration that strives to create spaces for children’s voices and reflections in the mainstream media and ultimately even make child rights dinner table conversations. We aim to do it in two ways: 1) to create media spaces for reportage on children’s realities 2) to engage with influencers such as journalists, scriptwriters and theatre persons to create sensitive and quality content around children’s issues.
In the year 2019, ‘In the Limelight’ will focus our energies extensively on two exhaustive and deeply rooted issues – Early Childhood Care and Child Marriage. By doing justice to these issues in the realm of media, we aim to influence policy makers, health professionals, educators, politicians, bureaucrats, parents and society at large to engage with children’s issues. The engagement with media creates a narrative that feeds into national and state-level efforts aimed at securing policy change along with efforts to influence the international dialogue on child rights. Charkha builds on the capacities of Media Persons and media vehicles such as newspapers, news channels, web portals, feature films and plays. This engagement aims to build accountability and transparency in the around the Constitutional rights of children, the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Child Rights Convention.
About UNICEF: Historically, UNICEF has been able to reach and sensitize the most vulnerable and hard to reach groups, creating awareness among them on their rights and priority issues, provided opportunities to them to participate at state, national and international level with the help of political leadership and newspaper and entertainment media. In 2015, for instance, UNICEF, along with Save the Children and other NGOs, advocated for more child-centric Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by running a national campaign raising children’s awareness and consequent recommendations for the 17 goals. A delegation of 15 adolescents presented their recommendations to world leaders at events during the UN General Assembly in 2015. In Maharashtra, we established a pilot state-level advocacy network in Maharashtra. UNICEF has been partnering with Charkha since 2016, and projects with the network have helped create an enabling environment for advocacy and raised the status of children in public and policy discussions and decisions.
As part of the ongoing engagement with the UNICEF – MUMBAI office of Charkha has been reaching out to journalists, Charkha Writers, Web Portals and College students perusing Media Courses, Journalists, Film Makers, Script Writers and Theatre Persons on the issues of Child Marriage and Early Childhood Development. These professionals have extended support to Charkha and Unicef by spreading awareness on the issues through news items, features, blogs, plays and short films which focus on the issue of children’s protection in Maharashtra. This project attempts to promote the MDG 5- Reducing Maternal and Child Mortality through Universal access to reproductive goal, MDG 3- Gender Parity and MDG 4 Reduce Child Mortality.