UNICEF Prize goes to Greenlandic childrens rights organization | Polarjournal
To ensure that children can also enjoy a carefree childhood in Greenland and that their rights are safeguarded, the organization for the rights of children in Greenland MIO was formed in 2012. It raises awareness of children’s rights through information campaigns, political initiatives and a great deal of public relations work. Image: Dr Michael Wenger

Growing up in Greenland certainly has many advantages, is readily accepted in other countries. But although Arctic regions traditionally have strong family ties, life for children on the world’s largest island is no walk in the park. As everywhere in the world, children in Greenland can be exposed to violence and various forms of abuse and many other problems. But children’s rights know no borders, and an organization that works very hard for children’s rights in Greenland has been recognized for its work by UNICEF Denmark.

The UNICEF prize was awarded last weekend to the Greenlandic children’s rights organization MIO. This organization has been working for 10 years to protect the rights of children and young people in Greenland and has become an important contact on this issue. The award was presented by UNICEF Denmark’s Program Manager, Maliina Abelsen to Aviâja Egede Lynge, social anthropologist and official MIO spokeswoman.

The UNICEF Award was presented over the weekend by UNICEF’s Program Manager in Denmark, Maliina Abelsen (right) to MIO’s spokesperson and official representative, Aviâja Egede Lynge (left). Image: UNICEF Denmark

With the award, UNICEF Denmark honors the work of MIO, whose mission is to promote awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Greenland. “MIO has been instrumental in raising awareness of children’s issues and rights in Greenland,” said Maliina Abelsen at the award ceremony. “Time and again, MIO succeeds in raising awareness of the importance of children’s rights and delivering solid and timely initiatives aimed at children, young people, adults and institutions alike.” And the CEO of UNICEF Denmark, Jesper Lok, also praises MIO’s work: “You have given children and young people a voice – and you have taught them that their opinions are just as important as those of adults. We as a board believe that this should be appreciated.”

I’m touched that it’s an award from UNICEF, because we work for the same goal.

Aviâja Egede Lynge, Spokeswoman MIO

Accepting the award was MIO’s official spokes- and ombudswoman for children’s rights in Greenland, Greenlandic social anthropologist Aviâja Egede Lynge, who has held the position since 2015. At that time she had received it from the well-known Greenlandic politician Aaja Chemnitz Larsen. “I am touched that it is an award from UNICEF, because we are working for the same goal. It’s very surprising and very significant. It’s important that we recognize each other, and this award shows that,” Lynge said.

In Greenland, too, despite strong family ties, children are exposed to many problems, many of them new. Greenland also has one of the highest rates of suicide among young people in the world. MIO and Aviâja Egede Lynge form a platform to which children and young people can turn when they have problems. Image: Dr Michael Wenger

The institution MIO was established in spring 2012 to ensure that the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is translated into effective measures to safeguard and strengthen the rights of Greenlandic children. For although children are highly valued in Greenland (as well as among Arctic peoples in general), they are exposed to numerous problems. Many of them are also known in other countries and do not only involve violence or abuse. More current problems such as cyberbullying, drugs, or dealing with sexuality and gender also occupy children and young people in Greenland. And as in the rest of the world, children have the right to have these social problems addressed and solved.

At MIO, we are first and foremost people. That is why we treat our fellow human beings – children, young people and adults – with human contact and care.

Quote website MIO

For this purpose, the ombudswoman (since 2015 Aviâja Egede Lynge) works out strategies, campaigns and also political initiatives together with a children’s rights council. Public relations and the involvement of children, young people and parents are particularly important at MIO. “At MIO, we are first and foremost people. That’s why we meet our fellow human beings – children, young people and adults – with human contact and care. We approach our task humbly and meet the child on his or her own terms,” the website states. This has now been recognized with the award from UNICEF Denmark. MIO can thus also join the ranks of well-known award winners. These include the Fridays for Future movement, which recently won an award for its work to give children and young people a voice in the climate debate that will be heard. Because no matter where in the world, children own the future and the right to shape and experience it.

Dr Michael Wenger, PolarJournal

Link to website for more information about MIO

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