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Chinyanta’s Digital Diary: A Zambian teen fights for child rights and gender equality

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©UNICEF Zambia/2007/Chimba
Chinyanta Chimba, 18, who advocates for child rights at her school in Lusaka, Zambia, recorded a Voices of Youth Digital Diary for UNICEF Radio.

By Blue Chevigny

NEW YORK, USA, 6 June 2007 – Chinyanta Chimba has a lot of energy. At her school in Lusaka, Zambia, she’s active in the Student Alliance for Female Education, which advocates for the rights of girls. She also travels around the world, speaking about children’s rights.

And just recently, she started recording interviews with her friends, along with her own observations, for the Digital Diaries project of Voices of Youth (UNICEF’s online community for young people) and UNICEF Radio.

Chinyanta, 18, received radio equipment and skills training at New York’s UNICEF headquarters in March, when she attended the 51st Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.

For her first Digital Diary, she spoke with some of her 12th grade peers at school about what’s most important to them. All of the interviews are focused on children’s rights – including the rights to education, health care and protection under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

The Convention was passed 18 years ago this coming November, and Chinyanta and other teenagers around the globe are the first generation to grow up under it.

Education for every child

“I feel I don’t know as much as I should about the rights of girls, and my rights as well,” says Natasha, one of the interview subjects.

“What are you going to do about it?” asks Chinyanta.

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© UNICEF Zambia/2007/Chimba
Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba (second from left) with fellow members of the Student Alliance for Female Education at her school in Zambia.

“Well, I wish to be an activist, and to teach the girls out there who don’t know about their rights – to educate them,” Natasha replies. “I really want to complete schooling and my education as a doctor, and that way I can help the people out there.”

Chinyanta and her friends all agree that education is a crucial right of every girl and boy.

“The dream of every Zambian child is to go to school, get good marks, finish and go to university, then to graduate and get a good job,” says Memory, another classmate. “At least we’ve managed to sensitize the people in the remote areas about the importance of education. So they’ve stopped thinking that girls don’t have a need for an education and realized that each and every child is entitled to go to school.” 

Chinyanta asks Memory how it feels to be a member of the first generation to grow up with the CRC in effect for its entire life. “I feel privileged because I realize that there were others before me who didn’t even realize what their rights were, and anyone could just do anything to them,” Memory says.

International communications conference

At the end of May, Chinyanta travelled to a UNICEF communications and advocacy meeting in to Florence, Italy, and her experiences there are recorded in her Digital Diary as well.

“Italy is very beautiful. Everything here is so ancient,” she says. “The weather is so nice, just like Zambia. The same temperature and no time difference at all.” At the international conference, Chinyanta presented her perspective on the CRC’s impact in her community. Also making a presentation was another 18-year-old activist, Nino Maisuradze, from the Republic of Georgia. She and Chinyanta quickly struck up a friendship.
“We actually shared some of our experiences back home and we found out that we have basically the same challenges. It was so beautiful,” Chinyanta reports. “I have broadened my understanding of some of the issues that affect us as young people. And it’s so good that such workshops actually bring us together and help us to communicate, because that’s the only way to get things done.”


 

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Audio
May 2007:
Voices of Youth and UNICEF Radio Digital Diarist Chinyanta Chimba reports on child rights from Lusaka, Zambia and Florence, Italy.
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