Making India proud at UN conference on child rights

Reaching out: Child journalists Renu (left) and Anjana during a press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: - Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Madhur Tankha

Child journalists Anjana Juyal and Renu Saklani articulate their point of view at Geneva

NEW DELHI: Two teenaged girls have made child journalists from their villages in Uttarakhand proud as they got the rare opportunity to highlight the challenges faced by Indian children at the recent United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child conference in Geneva.

Anjana Juyal and Renu Saklani were invited by the United Nations Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights to take part in the two-day celebrations last week to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the convention on the rights of the child. Both are members of Umang, supported by Plan India and Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram that works for improving the life of children in Uttarakhand.

Anjana, a Class XI student, said as children from 15 countries converged in Geneva there was a lot of confusion as they all spoke different languages: “We couldn’t make a head or tail so we decided to communicate in sign language. Along with another participant, we represented South Asia and interacted with representatives of other countries, UN bodies, inter-governmental organisation and national human rights institutions on the issue of ‘dignity, development and dialogue’ for children.”


The duo got a chance to interview UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay and UNCRC Chairperson Yanghee Lee. “As child reporters we’ve done umpteen interviews but this one was different. We researched on the Internet to prepare the questionnaire. As we carried out the interviews in Hindi, we had an interpreter. Fortunately we interviewed Kamladevi Verma from Malaysia who was conversant in Hindi.”

Renu, a Class XII student, said at Umang -- a State-wide network of child journalists engaged in child rights sensitisation and advocacy at various levels -- kids use news, story-writing, comics, radio programmes, photography, video and animation film-making and the Internet to articulate their views.

“We were also part of the team that prepared the alternate report that UNCRC accepts from civil society and children’s groups. The first report covered the issues of primary education, universal birth registration and discrimination. The second report, submitted in December last year, gives the real picture surrounding Article 19 of the UNCRC which states that children should not be subject to any sort of physical abuse at home or in school,” she said.


Anjana said she found out while preparing the report that children in Uttarakhand face a lot of discrimination. “Scheduled Caste children were made to sit at a different place while eating mid-day meals. In our report, we also pointed out some teachers who were discriminating between bright and dull students,” said Anjana.