Children as agents of positive change. A mapping of children’s initiatives across regions, towards an inclusive and healthy world free from violence

Children as agents of positive change. A mapping of children’s initiatives across regions, towards an inclusive and healthy world free from violence

Mobile Arts for Peace is a hub for resources and toolkits relating to arts-led peacebuilding initiatives. MAP’s website features recommendations for practitioners and researchers. The contents are the sole responsibility of The Office of the special representative of the secretary-general on violence against children

“We are in the midst of a new era of child engagement, where children are to be considered partners and key players in achieving change. Children are acting against violence and being part of the solution everywhere, taking forward positive change, working as partners with adults and young people.

As part of the mandate’s goal to promote meaningful participation, amplify children’s voices and actions and leave no one behind, the Special Representative took forward a mapping exercise to understand how children are taking part in today’s world, contributing with their views and solutions, and being agents of positive change.

Between April and November 2020, 245 case studies from 86 countries3 were reviewed,4 and in-depth dialogues were taken forward with 36 organizations working at global, regional, or country level.5 Additionally, through UNICEF’s U-Report, almost 5000 children from all geographical regions aged 13 – 18 were polled regarding their experiences regarding COVID-19.

This report provides an overview of the different actions taken forward by children mostly in times of COVID-19, but not limited to it. It looks at children’s diverse roles when helping to prevent, address, and report violence (including supporting their peers); it helps to understand how children are contributing and being part of the solutions  when thinking about building back better, and how children are helping accelerate fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It showcases how children are collaborating with adults and with decision makers, and how children are proving to be agents of change. The report also addresses the many challenges organizations and children have faced in times of COVID-19, including those posed by digital channels when taking forward participation, reaching the hardest to reach, and having regular communication with children disrupted.”

 

Nepal MAP

Save the Children Evaluation Handbook

Save the Children Evaluation Handbook

Mobile Arts for Peace is a hub for resources and toolkits relating to arts-led peacebuilding initiatives. MAP’s website features recommendations for practitioners and researchers. The contents are the sole responsibility of Save the Children.

Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is a key part of realising Save the Children‟s theory of change and common values and strategies, inherent in the child rights programming (CRP) framework. The principles, rights and obligations set out in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
1989 (UNCRC)1 provide a fundamental framework for the work we carry out with children and young people around the world. All of Save the Children‟s programme and advocacy work should aim to address violations of children‟s rights and gaps in service provision, as well as supporting children as
rights-holders and helping states, as duty-bearers, to meet their obligations. Our vision, mission, values and theory of change 2 reinforce this. It is vital that we clearly articulate, demonstrate and document the outcomes of our work for girls and boys and their carers.

 

Nepal MAP

Save the Children Evaluation Handbook

MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

MAP at the Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival

Hosted from the 25th-20th November 2020, the Eighth Nepal Human Rights International Film Festival (HRIFF) celebrated the films and filmmakers that spotlight human rights causes and change people’s lives across the world.

The Human Rights Film Center, a MAP partner in Nepal, has organised the HRIFF each year since 2010. Due to COVID-19, this is the first year in which the HRIFF has been hosted online. In 2020, the HRIFF shortlisted 52 films from 29 different countries for this year’s festival. Selected films spanned various formats and topics, from documentary shorts to animations and full-length features about mental health, war, migration, and child soldiers, to list a few topics. In 2020, HRIFF streamed to 100,000 people worldwide, with viewers in countries including the UK, France, Cambodia, and Nepal.

Mobile Arts for Peace was co-partner on the film festival, alongside other supporters, including the European Union, International Organization for Migration, and the Association of Youth Organizations in Nepal.

 

Highlights of the HRIFF include:

Mobile Arts for Peace documentary (dir. Deus Kwizera, Kwetu Film Institute, Kigali Rwanda).

The HRIFF was the first international premiere of the MAP documentary which focused on MAP’s Ubwuzu project (2019-2020) and documented MAP’s effort to use the MAP methodology to inform Rwanda’s Curriculum Framework and provide arts-based training for educators and young people in each province in Rwanda.

Chitrapuri Nagar (dir. Rajeela Shrestha, Nepal)

In Nepal, a historical route trod for centuries by legions of travellers was suddenly abandoned after the construction of the Tribhuvan Highway. This film focuses on the ancient village at the site, Chitrapuri Nagar, which remains of great socio-cultural importance.

Soundless Dance (dir, Pradeepan Raveendran, France).

In the spring of 2009, Sri Lanka’s decade’s long civil war is entering its most violent phase. Siva, a young Sri Lankan refugee living illegally in France, has lost  contact with the family he was forced to leave behind. Haunted by the trauma of the war that devastated his childhood and obsessed by the flow of images on the Internet, Siva sinks into a waking dream that propels him into the heart of the battlefield.

Can Art Stop Bullet: William Kelly’s Big Picture (dir. Mark Street, Australia)

Can Art temper violence when politics and reason fails? Can art stop bullets? Through the voices of some of the world’s most socially engaged artists and thinkers, William Kelly explores the role of art in achieving change in times of crisis.

 

Read the full programme for full details of the HRIFF programme

Nepal MAP

Report from Nepal International Human Rights Film Festival

Cultural Artist Network

Ubwuzu enabled the creation of a Cultural Artist Network and Youth Advisory Board to inform the design, delivery and implementation of MAP.

Our Supporters

 

MAP is made possible thanks to the support and funding of the following partners

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

MAP in Nepal – Report from Scoping Visit (2020)

In Nepal, MAP Network Plus conducted a series of internal scoping visits between 25 March – 30 August 2020.

The scoping visits’ activities included consultations with representatives of local government, teachers and school management, arts-led organizations and psychosocial organizations.

These scoping visits involved mapping key local partners and schools, briefing research participants, establishing connections with partner schools, child clubs and youth clubs, and conducting six cultural artists workshops.

Scoping visit methods included semi-structured interviews, observation, interactions and reflection based story-telling. In total, the MAP Nepal team interacted with 4 local government officials, 22 school leaders, 6 child club leaders, 17 local artists, and 9 researchers and 16 other stakeholders. In the process of scoping visits, the scoping team introduced participants to observation and reflection based story-telling.

© Human Rights Film Festival and Tribhuvan University, 2020.

 

Nepal MAP

Report from Scoping Visit

Rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’: the case of MAP-CTS Project

Rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’: the case of MAP-CTS Project

Written by: Danae Chatzinikoli and Stefania Vindrola.

Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS) hosted a three-day conference from 5 – 7 August in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The conference focused on encouraging child and youth participation through arts-based methods to inform policy and decision-making. It was an opportunity for MAP facilitators, master trainers, policymakers, organisations, partners and participants from Rwanda, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, the United Kingdom and other countries, to interact through both physical and online spaces.

While attending, the concept of ‘participation’ took many different forms. As in most conferences, one could participate by observing, actively participating or both. But due to the new reality that Covid-19 has imposed, alternative ways of participating were introduced. This conference had people participating by being in the conference rooms practicing social distancing, but it also had most of its participants, actively participating from their spaces all around the world online. Time-zones, connectivity and distances were merged into this event. Talks were delivered online from many different places and discussions were made between people who were on opposite sides of the planet. That surely changes the concept of participation and respects the ‘right to participate’ in a different manner. Under normal circumstances, the right to participate would be respected by allowing anyone relevant wishing to participate. Having a specific location for the event would exclude anyone who was not geographically available; therefore, keeping the event limited to people already at the location or those able to travel there. Of course, that creates other types of inequalities in terms of connectivity. Not everyone has access to the internet, and not everyone has a device they can use at any time. But what worked really well for this specific event is that it was hybrid, by having participants both online and in person. It allowed anyone from anywhere to participate eliminating any spatial difficulties that would otherwise limit them. Equally, it allowed young people in Rwanda – who would potentially have had connectivity issues due to a low internet access – to be involved directly. Therefore, the MAP-CTS event was able to equally promote the ‘right to participation’ going beyond social differences that might affect it.

Despite social distancing measures and restrictions, the conference allowed young people to voice their opinions and suggestions in relation to social issues in Rwandan society. It offered them a space to be, act and feel as citizens and exercise their right to participate and be heard. This is remarkable because young people are often perceived as ‘not-yet-adults’: individuals who have not yet developed the competency, rationality and maturity of adults (Uprichard, 2008). As a result, their ideas and opinions do not receive the attention they deserve. The MAP – CTS conference was structured in a way that promoted youth participation throughout the three days. Every session included moments for young people to express their thoughts and answer questions from policymakers and other attendees. Furthermore, their feelings and ideas – represented in a theatre presentation they performed – were the starting point for further group discussions. Throughout the event, young people were involved as much (if not even more) as adult participants. This reflects that, within the MAP-CTS Project, the right to participate is not ‘given’ to young people but otherwise is constructed on the basis of horizontal relations with adults. According to Lundy (2007), children’s right to participate should be guaranteed in a safe and inclusive space, and with adults that listen (not just hear) actively to their voices. This was clear during the MAP-CTS conference not only because of the high youth participation rate, but also because of the inclusion of a diverse range of participants from different ages, gender and school levels. Moreover, the right to participate was not an imposition from adults; during the group discussions young people were always asked if they would be willing to express their opinion as a way to show them it was entirely their decision and that it was safe to do it.

The MAP – CTS Project encourages children and young people to realise that they can and have the right to participate in broader society. This will motivate them to raise their voices with more impetus and strength, but will also have a significant impact on the way they are conceptualised by other generations. The Project goes beyond common stereotypes that tend to consider young people as irresponsible individuals who always get in trouble and cannot control their actions and emotions (Brown, 2009). It contributes to changing the image we have about them and positions them as valuable contributors and shapers of society. For example, one of the aims of the MAP – CTS Project is to connect young people with policy-makers through art-based methods. By doing that, the ‘right to participate’ is again respected in multiple ways. Firstly, young people have the opportunity to participate in a project that allows them to practice their right. Within the project and its workshops, the young people are trained and then train other people in the arts-based methodology. The methodology acts as a tool to reach the next step of the project which is the promotion of peace-building and constructive change. Through the process of being trained and then potentially training others, young people claim their right to participate. There is not some authority that allows them to do so, the training and learning is the enabler in the specific context.

MAP – CTS Project bridges childhood and youth with the policy-making arena. This is an interesting connection because, in the public discourse, political debates and policy-making are activities usually restricted to adults. The Project opens new possibilities for young people and extends their right to participate from their inner realities (family and school) towards their local contexts more broadly. Young people’s views are the pillar of the Project, the reason that connects adults, teachers and policy-makers, and enables them to construct relations with the aim of fostering social changes. In this sense, MAP-CTS promotes a ‘right to participation’ that goes beyond a tokenistic approach and takes young people’s views seriously (Lundy, 2018). Additionally, the Project allows children and young people to understand how policy-making works, how policy documents are created and enacted by different social actors. Therefore, apart from its goal of connecting young people and policy-makers through arts-based methods, MAP – CTS is also a way for the former to learn how society functions every day.

Through this short analysis, it becomes clear that the MAP-CTS Project contributes to rethinking young people’s ‘right to participation’.  It does so both by its structure and practically. This specific event can be thought of as a paradigm of how this Project respects children’s and young people’s ‘right to participate’ and of how the response to Covid-19 can create new paths to thinking about participation.

References

Brown, K. (2009). Children as Problems, Problems of Children. In Qvortrup, J., Corsaro, W. & Honig, M-S. (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Childhood Studies (pp. 256 – 272). London: Palgrave MacMillan.

Lundy, L. (2007). ‘Voice’ is not enough: conceptualising Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. British Educational Research Journal, 33(6), 927 – 942.

Lundy, L. (2018). In defence of ‘tokenism’? Implementing children’s right to participate in collective decision-making. Childhood, 25(3), 340 – 354.

Uprichard, E. (2008). Children as ‘Being and Becomings’: Children, Childhood, Temporality. Children & Society, 22, 303 – 313.

 

Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)

Beyond voice: expressing youth agency through arts-based approaches in Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP)

Written by Di Wu

A 3-day event was hosted by the Mobile Arts for Peace (MAP) and Changing the Story (CTS), in collaboration with the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) in Rwanda. The event aimed at using art-based approaches to engage young people, educators, cultural artists and policy makers to influence curriculum and policy-making for peacebuilding. The event provided a rich and dynamic platform that enabled participants from Rwanda, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Nepal, Cambodia, Ugand, and other countries to actively build conversation, share ideas and find solutions by addressing the young people’s theatre play, story-telling and other art-based activities despite the time and geographical differences across the countries as well as the limited conditions caused by Covid-19.

As the founder of MAP Professor Ananda Breed said, “in terms of the projects, there is building of art skills, creative thinking, well being and a space or environment in which young people feel abled to share stories in a deep and meaning ways and apply their stories to influence others, to find solutions to those problems in their community.” In other words, the project enables young people to voice their views and assert their agency through creative and expressive means.  In the study of childhood, children and young people are recognized as ‘voiceless’ due to the lack of power and their minor position in relation to adults. It is true that children and young people are restrained by the limited platforms to express their voices. Even though they increasingly participate in different programs, organizations and governments due to the promotion of children’s rights, there is still a gap between practice and policy and the programs are often “tokenistic, unrepresentative in membership, adult-led in process, and ineffective in acting upon what children want”. [1]

Portraying children and young people as ‘voiceless’ tends to neglect the fact that they are able to utilize art tools, such as theatre play, story telling and music to expressing their agency in creative, articulate and meaningful ways and therefore to negotiate their position in adult-dominant world and actively engage in the political arenas. [2] Through a series of activities including a curriculum workshop, training of trainers and drama clubs organized by MAP, children and young people are expected to be at the centre, voicing their everyday lives in the complex social and cultural contexts through bodily actions, theatre and musical performance and other creative methods in order to build dialogue, influence and challenge their relationships with parents, communities and wider social structures. MAP Rwanda youth trainer Sandrine said that there was a big difference between before and after engaging with MAP. Before being part of MAP, she was a very fearful person who could not stand in front of people. After engaging with MAP, she feels free and can stand in front of people and express her ideas clearly.

The MAP methodology also ensures that the adult educators are able to better understand their students from a new perspective and therefore develop and improve the curriculum and learning environment accordingly. A MAP research participant from Rwanda stated that he used MAP activities including drama plays to prepare lesson plans and learners were more motivated and interested. Those activities enable young people to find ways  to solve their own problems that are there in society; to clarify the root causes, the consequences, and to find solutions. It is through that platform that the school principals know the problems students have and they try to search for the solutions together.

So far, MAP has reached 250 educators and 2,000 young people in Rwanda and more educators, youth facilitators and students in Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia and Nepal. The MAP approach provides creative means for young people to express concerns and ideas through multiple methods t and to be heard, which therefore builds dialogue among young people, trainers, communities and policy makers to identify and find solutions for peacebuilding.

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[1] Taft, J. K. (2015). “Adults talk too much”: Intergenerational dialogue and power in the Peruvian movement of working children. Childhood22(4), 460-473.

[2] Emberly, A., & Davhula, L. A. (2016). My music, my voice: Musicality, culture and childhood in Vhavenda communities. Childhood23(3), 438-45