Learning the different Factions of Child Protection issues with UNICEF Tunisia
By Israa Noureddine
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
UNICEF Tunisia has been nothing but a positive learning experience. However, before I get into that, I would love to introduce myself. I’m Israa Noureddine, I have both a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Global Affairs. During my Bachelors I took a course called Children and War, this course exposed me to International Human Rights, Children's Rights, Refugee Rights, and different international instruments. Having completed my Bachelors in Lebanon, I was present during the Syrian Refugee Crisis, which paved the way and increased my interest to pursue a career with an International NGO. I was interested in what UNICEF had to offer, as I saw first-hand in Lebanon how they assisted the refugees and the impact they created. I completed my Masters knowing that one day I would appreciate working with the UN and more specifically UNICEF. Having stumbled upon the United Nations Association in Canada’s International Youth Internship Program (IYIP), I knew that this was the program to get the experience I sought for.
After applying, I was placed as a Junior Professional Consultant with UNICEF Tunisia, more specifically with the child protection unit. The child protection unit works on developing and enhancing current programs in Tunisia surrounding children's rights, together with the Tunisian government, civil societies, and many more crucial actors. I was able to see how expansive the unit was and how many topics they covered, whether it be rehabilitation and reintegration, or pushing for policy improvements surrounding various children's rights laws. I was amazed at how many topics there were regarding child protection whether it be economical exploitation, sexual exploitation, bullying, and harassment, children in conflict with the law, and much more.
“UNICEF, together with the Tunisian government, civil society, the media, the private sector and financial and technical partners, seeks to unite efforts to promote the respect and realization of the rights of every child and adolescent.” - UNICEF TUNISIA
Before starting any projects, it was important I completed online classes and submitted my certificates of completion regarding UNICEF safety protocols. The courses themselves introduced me to crucial topics surrounding child protection. They also provided me with knowledge about different research instruments surrounding fieldwork that I can use for any future career aspirations. My supervisors were not only welcoming but also motivating and encouraging. They allowed me to work on topics to which I was not exposed and develop policy briefs that could potentially be used for any policy work in the future. I was able to learn about different child protection laws globally and how certain laws are still up for debate. I was also exposed to controversial topics like the minimum age of criminal responsibility and how different countries are advocating to increase the age. My position required extensive research and patience, as not all the information was readily available. There would be weekly/ bi-weekly meetings to catch up and obtain more guidance and information when I was stuck in a certain area.
As I said earlier, this experience has been nothing but rewarding. It was a learning experience and an eye-opener as well. I not only learned so much, but had the opportunity to work in a positive environment. It also provided me with a clear image of how important UNICEF’s work is and how it is.