15,000 young people and adolescents from across Myanmar use UNICEF’s innovative U-Report polling tool to express their views, concerns and hopes. For most, achieving peace for Myanmar is a top priority.
Naypyidaw 25 October 2017 – For the first time, 40 youth will represent the more than 15,000 adolescents and young people from across Myanmar who use UNICEF’s innovative U-Report polling tool, at a forum with Parliamentarians in Naypyidaw today. Their aim is to show over 80 Members of Parliament (MPs) how U-Report – which uses weekly polls to canvas young people’s views via Facebook messenger – can help them to better reflect the experiences, concerns and hopes of Myanmar’s young people in their decision-making processes.
Today’s meeting, opened by Dr Mya Thaung, Chair of Women and Child Rights Parliamentary Committee, saw the U-Reporters explain how the tool works and present some of the poll findings from over the past fourteen months. Education and job opportunities were highlighted as the top two issues that U-Reporters expressed concern about, and most said achieving peace for Myanmar is a priority.
Round table discussions with the Parliamentarians were also held to explore new poll topic ideas and to discuss in detail how Parliamentarians can use U-Report poll results when deliberating laws, budgets and other critical decision-making processes.
“We are delighted to host Myanmar’s young U-Reporters. The information we can get from them is extremely valuable to us. It helps us keep a finger on the pulse and understand better the needs and concerns of young people,” said Dr Mya Thaung. “They are the most important asset this country has. They are our future,” he added.
The event also featured a new video - ‘Making Change Together: U-Report Myanmar’ - produced by young people to inspire peers across the country to join the initiative. A stage performance by well-known youth theatre group United Act shed light on the widespread problem of violence against children in Myanmar, which an overwhelming 92% of young people polled by U-Report said they were deeply concerned about.
“We improve accountability, we highlight injustice and we aim to protect the most vulnerable, particularly children, by reporting on the tough conditions faced in our communities,” said Ma Khin Thu, a young U-Reporter who attended the event.
With many of the nine million young people in Myanmar aged 15 to 25 active on social media, launched in 2016, U-Report Myanmar is designed to give adolescents and young people a voice. By responding to carefully crafted weekly short surveys via Facebook Messenger, U-Report members express their views on a wide-range of issues that matter to them and their communities. Poll results are systematically shared with policy makers, organisations engaged in development work and the media. They are also displayed on a dedicated public website.
To date, over 15,000 adolescents and young people from 14 States and Regions have signed up to be part of the initiative and the aim is to reach 50,000 youth by 2022. The vast majority of those using the tool now are aged between 15 and 25 years old, with almost 4,500 from Shan State and nearly 4,000 from Yangon. Education and job opportunities are the top two issues that U-Reporters worry about, and most say achieving peace for Myanmar is a top priority.
Around the world, UNICEF has rolled out similar U-Report projects in 38 countries as a dynamic way to engage youth. “We have found that these platforms encourage adolescents and youth to exercise their fundamental right to participate in often complex and fast paced political transitions,” said UNICEF Acting Representative to Myanmar, Mr. Paul Edwards. “When we launched the initiative in Myanmar a year ago we asked young people what would contribute the most to peace. Their answers were inspiring. They spoke about unity, trust and u n ယderstanding of each other”.
“Today, with the data and experience we have gathered during the past months, we want to encourage Myanmar’s policy makers to take advantage of our U-Report, to listen to the many young voices of this country and to use their wisdom and feedback to shape their decisions,” Mr. Edwards said.