Moments before walking on stage to speak in front of the world, 15-year-old Nickar tried to calm herself, slowing her breath and reassuring herself with words of encouragement. “I was saying to myself ‘you are wonder woman,’” she says with a laugh. “I was saying things like: ‘today, I will speak up for every child, I will do my best, and let my voice be heard.’ It helped calm me and prepare me for that moment.”
Once ready, Nickar walked up to the podium at the UN General Assembly in New York to speak in front of the world’s leaders about the importance of education. It’s a moment she’ll never forget.
Nickar is a Lao youth representative and recently made a visit to UNICEF Laos to share her experiences and ideas after her dream come true in New York.
It was seeing a video of a senior from her school at the UN that made her dream of one day standing at the podium and speaking up for children. As a well-known and enthusiastic advocate for education system in Lao PDR, she said she was proud to be delivering a message for Lao children to the world.
The day before her dream come true, she met other young advocates who also inspired her. “I met 11-year-old disability advocate from North Macedonia. He wants to become a football player. He uses his voice to inspire other children to follow their dreams, and advocates a fair opportunity for every child to achieve children’s rights and dreams,” said Nickar.
Since her speech, Nickar has become well known in Lao PDR. “I had some interviews with Lao television and radio. As I’m more well known now, I’m using this opportunity to reach more people to share my experiences and ideas. I want to make the country a better place with quality education,” she said.
“I am just a 15-year-old girl but I have promised myself that I will fight for the right of every child in Laos to an education. I want to see them in school, with their uniforms and holding books and pens in their hands so they can reach their full potential, achieve their dreams and have a bright future.” At the #UNGA on World Children’s Day, this 15-year-old girl Nickar, as a youth representative, speaks up for children’s rights to access quality education. Will you be listening?#WorldChildrensDay
Posted by Unicef Laos on Thursday, November 21, 2019
Nickar also mentioned a recent youth consultation organized by UNICEF and the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children. “This experience gave me more motivation to advocate child rights in Laos as Youth Representative,” she said.
In the consultation, she searched for challenges, solutions and a vision for Lao children in 2030. With other youth participants, she brainstormed ideas on issues like education, climate change, and youth participation. The consultations included the voice of children from various provinces from across Lao PDR, sharing their own challenges and ideas from their own experiences.
“The education system is developing better than years past. I am very impressed to see the curriculum is developing as well. So, I am sure that the Lao education system will be better developed in the future,” said Nickar.
She also shared her opinion on the three biggest changes she needs to happen to ensure that every child has every right in 2030 in Lao PDR.
“Firstly, better health. Second, education and services for children. Lastly, more spaces for children to speak up. We need to face the issues in order to find better solutions,” she said.
For Nickar, this is just the beginning and she wants to use her voice to help speak up for every child in Lao PDR, and help their voices be heard. “We need to start from speaking up with our own voices and encourage friends and adults to promote child rights,” she said. “Also, it’s critical to show people a positive result that proves child rights have been known and used by children.”
“I know child rights, and I use them. They made me who I am today,” said Nickar.