UNV Profile: Tanya Urquieta in Nicaragua
01 January 2000
León, Nicaragua: A UN Volunteer in Nicaragua has significantly raised public awareness of issues concerning children and youth by negotiating free weekly air time for child rights advocates. Tanya Urquieta from the United States, who has just completed a 15-month assignment as a UN Volunteer, arranged radio spots of up to 30 minutes each week and five short programmes daily to sensitize the local population on child and youth issues.
Tanya was working in a Central American regional team supporting implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Based in the small town of León, 250 km northwest of the capital Managua, Tanya provided support to the Coordinating Commission Attention to Children (CCAN), which is a platform of more than 30 mostly non-governmental organizations and community-based groups for children and their parents in the province. It strives to bring together efforts of different organizations and build a strong link with the Municipal Council to complement activities of these groups.
During this time Tanya's work mainly focused on informing the public about the situation of children and the content of the Convention and on providing economic support to parents in the form of productive credits in order to tackle the causes of child abuse and excessive child labour. She helped set up a database of information about children in need and gave special training in microcredit management to local counterparts. She invited 150 adults to participate in the Municipal Assembly of Parents where together with government officials they discussed viable ways to reduce exploitation and abuse of children. Moreover, she promoted the legislative mandate of the CCAN through helping to establish the Bufete de Amigos de la Ninez, a group of lawyers giving judicial support in child-related cases.
Another notable part of her work had been with the children of the Consejo Municipal Infantil (CMI). With her support, the children aged 12 to 15 presented their own organizations and projects in the National Assembly (Commission for Women and Children) to have their voice heard in the approval of the new Law of the National Council for the Integrated Welfare of Children. Partly for this work, Tanya and the team received diplomas of recognition in a competition organized by "The Mayors -- Friends of the Children" initiative as one of the countries leading organizations in defending children's rights.
However, apart from the success in helping to strengthen coordination within the CCA and in increasing the number of children participating in different support programmes, Tanya and other team members have indicated a number of difficulties in their work. A lack of resources in a comparatively small rural town for an operational communication system and the high degree of politization of the topic in certain parts of society have limited the impact of their efforts and inhibited the full exploration of possible partnerships also outside the city of León.
In February, Tanya was to return to Croatia where she had worked before joining UNV.
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