By Mohamed Massaquoi and Kevin Hill
In an effort to show the strength of young women, to protect their rights and to have their voices heard across the world, Plan International in partnership with MTV Netherlands has created a television show that focuses on an up and coming young woman in Sierra Leone.
19 year old Harriet Tucker, creator of youth radio show called Child’s Rights Watch in Moyamba and student at Fouray Bay College’s Mass Communications Department, is the subject of the show that will air on MTV in the Netherlands.
Child’s Rights Watch is a radio program that talks about issues important to young people and has developed a network of young co-hosts who create the forum for discussion.
“I started the radio program in Moyamba in 2005 where I came in touch with Plan International. I have gone to Kenema, Bo, Makeni to get children who I can work with because there is an increase of child rights violations (across the country). I know that with the radio program it will reduce”, Harriet said.
The partnership between Plan and MTV Netherlands is designed to use the large audience of the youth culture and music channel to talk to young people in the Netherlands about the importance of upholding the rights of girls, especially those who are living in conflict and post-conflict areas.
According to Lydia Tiemens, Project Coordinator with Plan, the show seeks to “get Dutch youth involved in development issues and to stand up for the rights of their peers.”
Plan International believes that girls are facing double discrimination because of their gender and their age. This discrimination often leaves them without access to basic health services, education, and forces them to face extremely high levels of violence, abuse, and harassment. It is hoped that through international support for girls pressure can be placed on governments to protect the rights of the girl child. The program is part of Plan International’s ‘Because I Am a Girl’ campaign.
The MTV show pairs Harriet with Giovanca Ostiana, a popular singer from the Netherlands, and Ashley Nyland, a Dutch student and MTV co-host as they go to Moyamba, Kenema, Bo and Freetown to talk to girls about the challenges they face. The group also records a song which will be played on radio across Sierra Leone.
Being a part of the project has given Giovanca a chance to see many of the issues that Plan International is attempting to highlight. “This has been a big experience. We’ve learned more about the impact of war on children. They face the consequences.”
It is hoped that increased awareness amongst the youth in Netherlands of the violation of the rights of girls living in developing countries and conflict and post-conflict environments will lead to increased support for these issues at the national level in their country.