Ahead of his attendance at the 21st Century Panglong Conference and high level meetings last week, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reached out to young people from Myanmar through U-Report, a recently launched youth engagement tool that provides a platform for young people to raise their voices on issues that matter to them.
More than 1200 U-Reporters, aged 13 to 25, responded to an invitation to share their views on what matters most in their lives and how they can contribute to peace and reconciliation. The results of the poll were presented to the UNSG by Bertrand Bainvel, the UNICEF Representative to Myanmar, at a meeting on 31 August.
In a Facebook message to U-Reporters, Ban Ki-moon said: “Thank you for sharing with me what matters most to you – education and employment, peace and reconciliation, and youth empowerment and participation. I will give them all the importance they deserve in all my meetings during my visit in Myanmar. Keep using U-Report and ask your friends to join. Your views matters to all of us.”
Adolescents and young people were asked via Facebook, a series of questions relating to peace and development in Myanmar. Asked what would most contribute to peace in Myanmar, U-Reporters put at the top of the list: ‘unity’, ‘trust’, and ‘understanding each other’. They placed high hopes on the 21st Century Panglong Conference. It was clear to them that politicians alone cannot make peace happen, but that young people also have an important role to play by ending hate speech, fighting discrimination, and campaigning for peace, including through social media.
U-Report was launched in Myanmar on 18 August 2016. Already almost 2,000 Myanmar U-Reporters have registered through Facebook and the numbers are growing every day. It is expected to reach 100,000 by the end of 2017.
In Myanmar, U-Report is currently available through Facebook, however discussions are ongoing with telecom operators to join the platform.
“It is essential that we expand the platform to make it available to the most vulnerable, particularly young people living in conflict-affected and remote areas without access to internet, so that they too have the opportunity to contribute to polls, debates and to report on the conditions faced in their communities” said UNICEF Representative to Myanmar Bertrand Bainvel.
“SMS is the only means of communication in some parts of Myanmar – we call on the social responsibility of all three major telecom operators to join us and support the platform. Without their support millions of young people will remain invisible and ignored” he concluded.