08.08.2012 - UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices

The International Day of the World's Indigenous People, celebrated each year on 9 August, is organized this year under 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.

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.


In Nepal, indigenous peoples’ communities have so far little access, voice and participation in the mainstream media.


“We need to build the capacity of indigenous journalists, and to sensitize media professionals from as many  ethnic groups as possible to better understand and cover the issues affecting indigenous people”, says Axel Plathe, Head of UNESCO Office in Kathmandu.


Special attention needs 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” says Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO in her message on the occasion of the Day.


Ms Bokova 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. New forms of media can play a crucial role to capitalize 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.


Intangible heritage is not only a source of identity and history. Values and ways of thinking, reflected in the languages, oral traditions and diverse cultural manifestations, collectively created and re-created over time, are the foundation of community life.


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. Media and communication are essential tools also to create spaces for the expression of indigenous voices in the ongoing debate of the role of their culture and identity in development.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Terhi Ylikoski

Communication and Information Unit

UNESCO Office in Kathmandu

Tel + 977 -1 555 4396, Ext: 29

Fax: + 977 -1 5554450

Email: t.ylikoski(at)unesco.org




Kathmandu, 8 August 2012

Press release UNESCO/KAT 04/2012




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