HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: The UNESCO today said indigenous peoples’ communities have so far little access, voice and participation in the mainstream media in Nepal.
“We need to build the capacity of indigenous journalists, and to sensitise media professionals from as many ethnic groups as possible to better understand and cover the issues affecting indigenous people”, said Axel Plathe, Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu on the eve of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People.
The Day, which is celebrated on August 9, is being organised this year with the theme ‘Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices’. This theme was chosen to highlight the role of media in supporting indigenous peoples’ models of development that are in accordance with their own priorities, cultures and knowledge systems.
According to the UNESCO, the power of media in shaping people’s lives is widely acknowledged. But communication and media are also the keys to raising awareness, sharing knowledge and supporting a broader debate on indigenous knowledge, culture and values. It undescored the need of special attention to be given to issues like mother tongue content, access to ICT and inclusion of indigenous journalists, both women and men, in mainstream media. Indigenous media “is especially important for indigenous women, whose voices are shunted aside, and who are making already a significant contribution to local human development. The media can help educate and inform. They can include and bolster voices. They can also promote changes in attitudes and social behavior, and help identify sustainable opportunities for development that are inclusive and equitable” said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, in her message on the occasion of the Day. She also stressed the fact that indigenous peoples are “custodians to a great wealth of languages and traditions. They have access to deep wells of knowledge and creativity”. Local and indigenous knowledge systems and environmental management practices provide valuable insight and tools for
tackling ecological challenges, UNESCO said. New forms of media can play a crucial role to capitalise on the positive practices embedded in indigenous cultures by fostering synergies between modern services and local knowledge and assist communities in taking full advantages of their social assets — the knowledge, culture and governance systems.
UNESCO underscores the importance of harnessing indigenous knowledge and ensuring their bearers’ continuity in producing and broadcasting their skills, including respect for their practices in public services such as education and health.