Barbados & the Eastern Caribbean Activate Talk: Using Technology to Influence Policies for Children

A full recording of the event will be available soon. 

With high internet penetration and mobile phones per capita being among the highest in the world, Eastern Caribbean countries, including Trinidad are moving to embrace technology and use new platforms to help influence policies for children and young people. Trinidad and Tobago is a prime example of a country where both the government and private sector is increasingly turning to technology to help create better societies.


Jamir Nazar, the Director Policy, Strategy and Government Performance Management Division in the Office of the Prime Minister demonstrated how government is using technology to drive youth and citizen and engagement.

Asia Jutla, also a public servant showed how an interactive Integrated Performance Management System is allowing ministries to keep tabs on social policies, especially those related to children and other special interest populations.

Kenfield Griffith, is an entrepreneur who is changing the game for data collection in the Caribbean. His mobile SMS-based survey service is putting real-time data in the hands of policymakers while empowering youth to use the technology they are comfortable with to help influence polices being designed for them.

Sixteen-year-old secondary school student Jermaine Cox is a self-confessed “tekkie” who showed how his generation is navigating through the multiple platforms available to keep issues critical to children on the public agenda.

France Activate Talk: “Connect, Empower, Collaborate” for Child Rights

On October 3rd, UNICEF France convened an Activate Talk to explore the role of innovation in a child’s life from inclusion to digital youth engagement.

Moderated by Zayn Abaakil, the featured speakers included:

Candice (10) and Jade (13) Jasmin: two young girls of many talents: they wrote a book that was adapted into a play, they are gifted slammers and these two prodigies will be telling us about their new project to engage the (young) public to express themselves on issues of violence on a wall they are planning to raise in their city.

Steven Asei-Dantoni: a former corporate employee in France and a basketball player in the US, he gave it all up to go back to school and volunteer; this inspiring young man will tell us about his experience in social entrepreneurship in Nicaragua.

Camille Galap: President of social responsibility in universities in France ; he will share his diverse and rich background as well as projects he has led in collaboration with different universities.

Hewan Wole (via video): Voices of Youth Connect participant and leader will explain the importance of collaboration for advocacy.

Smahane Maadir: UNICEF France Youth Ambassador will share her experience in fundraising and her participation in Voices of Youth Connect and what she learnt from it.

Lynda Sedoud: Youth Engagement, UNICEF France- she will explore how youth are engaged through digital tools and programs such as Connect and Maps

Gaêl Musquet: spokesperson of  Open Street Map in France – open source digital map



Empowering Girls through Education, One Digital Step at a Time — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

UNICEF Malaysia/2014/Zahri

Ms. Deborah Henry shares the experiences of The Fugee School in using ICT to make a difference to the education of children, especially girls, from the refugee community.

Activate Talk KL explored what happens when one of the most transformative technologies in the world – ICT — meets one of the most transformational forces in the world – education – and unleashes the potential of one of the world’s most untapped resources – girls and women. And what’s at stake, when we don’t.

The talk was held on International Literacy Day, September 8th. It was hosted by UNICEF Malaysia, as one of the featured sessions of the 7th World Summit on Media for Children, held for the first time ever in Asia.

The session was moderated by UNICEF’s Representative to Malaysia, Ms. Wivina Belmonte and featured an all-women panel, with active engagement from the Summit audience and via online media, using the hashtags #UNICEFActivate and #Act4Girls.

“For years, we’ve known about the gender gap in education. Even with far more girls receiving an education than ever before, globally – boys still outnumber girls in school. As is often the case, when a girl is left out in one area, she is likely to be left out in others, as well,” said Ms. Belmonte. “And so it goes with the gender gap in the digital world, where we see a double digital divide when it comes to girls, especially in the Global South.”

The panelists covered a range of dimensions, on issues that affect access to education for girls and young women, and the innovations they’ve come up with to close the gap.

UNESCO’s Programme Specialist for Communications and Information, Ms. Venus Jennings, kicked off the session by highlighting the state of education for girls and the role of ICT and media to enable easier access for girls and young women. Activate Talk KL heard from two young social innovators, Miss Wun Min and Miss Sher Minn, who offer coding courses for girls and young women through their start-up Code Equality. Ms. Rani Wemel of MyMobileUniversity introduced everyone to her mobile application that provides free education online. Another young Malaysian social innovator, Miss Gwen Yi, shared how her personal story in the education system led her to create a community platform for teachers, called Edvenue. Ms. Deborah Henry told the audience how the Fugee School in Kuala Lumpur focuses on one especially marginalized group — Somali refugees, especially girls — based temporarily in Malaysia before their expatriation to third countries. The Fugee School offers them specially designed, free, ICT courses that connect them to educational resources. And Ms. Amelia Gowa of IMPACT emphasized the importance of online child safety, especially for girls.

Members of the audience actively participated in the session during two Q&A sessions, and via live social media posts.


Globally, UNICEF’s Activate Talks bring together innovators, experts and thought-leaders to showcase innovations that deliver progress on major issues confronting the most vulnerable and marginalized children around the world.


Activate Talk KL is part of global initiatives to mark UNICEF’s Year of Innovation for Children, in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in November.

Speaking Out: Young Voices on NCDs

Non Communicable Diseases- the chronic diseases that include diabetes, obesity, cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases- have become a major health and development issue affecting the fulfilment of children’s rights. UNICEF and NCD Child hosted an Activate Talk to highlight innovations in living with and treatment of NCDs in children.

Moderated by Dr. Mychelle Farmer, the talk featured:

Seun Adebiyi, Founder/CEO, Nigeria Bone Marrow Registry, Olympian

Hadleigh Thompson, President, Kids and Families Impacting Disease Through Science Connecticut

Greg Weintraub, Intern, College Diabetes Network

Braam Jordaan, Filmmaker, Advocate for Sign Language and the Human Rights of Deaf people worldwide



Costa Rica Activate Talk: Innovating for Closing the Gap in Education

A full video of the event will be available soon.


On September 24, UNICEF Costa Rica convened an activate talk to kick-start the conversation among key stakeholders of how innovation can take education to the next level to help bridge social gaps.


Montenegro Activate Talk: Innovations for Inspired Teaching and Learning

On July 10, UNICEF Montenegro hosted an Activate talk on innovative approaches to teaching for better learning.

The talk will be moderated by Mr. Vladimir Vulic and the speakers included:

  • Conrad Wolfram, Founder of the Computer-based Mathematics
  • Professor Srdjan Kadic, Faculty of Mathematics, University of Montenegro
  • Professor James Arthur, Head of the School of Education/University of Birmingham and Director of the Jubilee Center for Character and Values
  • Mr. Srdjan Vukcevic, Director of the “Blue Coach”
  • Ms. Dubravka Drakic, Professor at the Faculty of Drama Arts

Georgia Activate Talk: It Is About Ability

The ‘Activate Talks’ in Georgia focused on children with disabilities and aimed at mobilizing the public’s attention towards those pressing issues that affect the lives of these vulnerable children. There are around 9,000 registered children with disabilities, but this figure is likely higher in reality as many disabled children living with their families are invisible and left behind. After eight years of Georgia’s Child Care System Reform, there has been real progress in ensuring a family environment for every child. Still, children with disabilities account for most of the children who live in the remaining state-run large institutions. 40 percent of the Georgian public stigmatizes children with disabilities.

The event was moderated by Akaki Gogichaishvili and the speakers included:

Armenia Activate Talk: Innovating for Inclusive Education

On June 23rd, UNICEF Armenia hosted an Activate Talk aimed bringing together the brightest minds and boldest change makers in the country. One of the goals of the talk was to enhance the local dialogue with fresh thinking and advocate the need for innovation and equity approaches in achieving results in access to education, especially for children with disabilities. The event focused on the topic of child rights in education and disability, inviting key thinkers and doers (young people, government, civil society, children and parents, international development partners, donors and Ambassadors) who are committed to social innovation for children. Aside from setting the agenda for SOWC, Yerevan Activate Talks also contributed to the local campaign on social inclusion of children with disabilities.

The talk was moderated by the UNICEF team and featured:

  • Zara Batoyan Advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities, Bridge of Hope NGO
  • Anahit Bakhshyan Director of the National Institute of Education
  • Artak Beglaryan Public Figure, Political Scientist
  • Garen Koloyan Orthopedist – pediatric traumatologist, Arabkir medical center
  • Meri Martirosyan Mother
  • Teni Matian Inclusive dance teacher

View the full talk here.


Alternative Solutions to Energy Poverty in Burundi

Burundi faces one of the most dire cases of energy poverty worldwide. Only 3% of its population has access to the electricity grid. This energy poverty affects all aspects of life in Burundi. Schools and health centres are not electrified; children are unable to study after sunset as it is too dark at home; women giving birth at night do so by candlelight; and women and children have to go outside into the dark if they need to go to the toilet at night.

These devastating immediate consequences point to energy poverty as perhaps the single most important barrier to delivering sustainable results for children and women in Burundi. The need to provide safe, clean and low-cost energy solutions that have the potential to benefit all children, especially the most vulnerable, is urgent.

The Burundi Activate Talk explored  the opportunities that new energies provide, and highlighted solutions to overcome the critical bottleneck of energy poverty in Burundi to deliver results for children.  The event was held on June 19th 2014. The featured speakers are:

  1. Spès Nihangaza is the co-founder and Legal Representative of FVS-AMADE Burundi which has been working in favor of the welfare of the child since 1992. She works for the protection of children’s rights and economic empowerment of vulnerable households.
  2. Eduardo Appleyard works as a consultant in the field of energy access and has participated widely in the renewable energy sector since 2008. He has worked in the tide, wind and solar photovoltaic industries.
  3. Marie Ntakirutimana is a community leader involved in the care of orphans and other vulnerable children. She works with FVS-AMADE Burundi in the supervision of solidarity groups and dissemination of Nuru lights in her community of Ruziba (rural Kanyosha). 
  4. Rhys Marsh grew up in Vermont in the United States with both a sense of adventure and a passion for sustainability and the natural world. In recent years, Rhys has financed energy projects in the United States as Vice-President of a major lending institution, with particular emphasis on wind and solar energy.
  5. Peres Niyonsaba is an engineer in mini hydroelectric dams that trained in this area in Kenya. He distinguished himself by building small hydropower plants for the population in several communes of Burundi and at low cost. He is always busy working on his sites.
  6. Allan Stockman Rugano is an independent programmer passionate about open source technologies who studied mathematics at the University of Burundi. He is currently a “junior programmer” in the Innovations Lab of UNICEF Burundi and likes to tinker around.


15:30 – 16 :00: Welcome and introduction of  “Litre of Light” video by Spès Nihangaza – FVS/AMADE
16:00 – 16:15: “Accessing energy in Africa : seeing big, starting small” by Eduardo Appleyard
16:15 – 16:30: “Life without electricity” by Marie Ntakirutimana
16:30 – 16:45: “Community-led microenergy solutions” by Rhys Marsh
16 : 45 – 17:00: “Hydroelectric solutions in Burundi” by Perès Niyonsaba
17:00 – 17:15: “Access to energy in Burundi : creation of opportunities for young people” by Allan Stockman Rugano

A full recording of the event will be available shortly.


New York Activate Talk: Innovative Approaches to Advocate for Child Rights

Watch the NY Activate Talk here. 

On June 10 2014, UNICEF convened an Activate Talk at United Nations Headquarters, as a side-event to “Contributions of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in the post-2015 Development Agenda”- a high-level event convened by the President of the General Assembly from June 9 to 10.  The  New York Activate Talk highlighted how innovative and participatory approaches can help overcome inequality and promote rights for the most disadvantaged children. The event was moderated by Femi Oke and featured the following speakers:

  • Saba Ismael (Pakistan) is the Executive Director of Aware Girls, a Peshawar-based NGO that she co-founded at the age of 15, along with a group of other young women, which works to empower women through training and advocacy. In 2010, she was a civil society representative at the Informal Interactive Hearing of the General Assembly with Non-Governmental Organizations, Civil Society and the Private Sector at the United Nations headquarters.
  • Erik Martin (USA) is a game designer and a student at the University of Maryland creating his own major in New Media and Global Affairs. He is currently organizing a Student Constitutional Convention to create a National Student Bill of Rights with current and veteran students across the country, and works as a consultant to create games that entertain and engage players to promote peace and civil society with the international development agency FHI360.
  • Chernor Bah (Sierra Leone) is a passionate youth advocate and leader, girl champion and former refugee from Sierra Leone. He is the Campaign Coordinator for Youth Engagement at A world at School. Chernor is the youth representative on the high level steering committee for Global Education First Initiative and Chair of the Youth Advocacy Group.
  • Sofia Garcia-Garcia (Spain) is an active member of the Major Group of Children and Youth and the facilitator of its children working group. She ensures that the voices, needs and rights of the youngest children are also represented by the group by convening the voices of the children as well as the information gathered through different consultations by child-led organizations.