Horseback riding in Kyrgyzstan

Hello everyone! I am now back in Sweden and have just started to write my master thesis in strategic communication at Lund University. I had a wonderful time in Kazakhstan and will in this blogpost sum up my experiences from living and working as an intern for UNICEF in Astana, Kazakhstan and traveling around Central Asia.

UNICEF’s work in Kazakhstan is mainly focused on health, education, child protection and social inclusion. They work with the Government and national and international partners to ensure the rights of all children enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). My main responsibilities during my internship was to work with UNICEF Kazakhstan’s different accounts on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In my opinion, UNICEF is one of the most progressive and creative UN agencies when it comes to digital communication, and this was also one of the reasons why I decided to apply for an internship at UNICEF. While working with social media I also gained knowledge and experience from almost all of UNICEF’s different working areas. It was truly a blessing to meet such kind and ambitious experts and take all their knowledge and transform it into something that could be easily understood by the general public.

In Kazakhstan, UNICEF does a lot of things to improve lives for all children, but what I especially enjoyed working with was the #ENDviolence against children campaign. Every second child in Kazakhstan aged 2-14 has experienced violence. Sadly, there is an unacceptable high level of tolerance for violence against children in the country. UNICEF seeks to raise awareness about the risks, long-term social and economic costs from the use of violence against children. For me it was difficult to comprehend this, coming from Sweden, the first nation in the world to ban corporal punishment (smacking of children) in 1979. I really recommend UNICEF’s website, where you can read more about the situation for children in the world. Worth mentioning is that only 60 countries have adopted legislation that fully prohibits corporal punishment, which leaves more than 600 million children under 5 without full legal protection.

It was very interesting for me to get a glimpse of how UNICEF works together with different partners to protect the most vulnerable children. Before working for UNICEF I had the impression of the UN as a bureaucratic and slow moving organization (which is not necessarily untrue) but they are in fact doing very important work and they are doing the very best they can within their mandate. Worth remembering is that the UN and the different agencies are only as strong as their members allow them to be. It is not a perfect system, but it is what we have for now. If you are interested in getting to know more about how the UN works, I highly recommend you to apply for an internship!

Despite being a student with a small budget, I was still able to experience different regions and cities in Kazakhstan such as the old capital Almaty, the third biggest city Shymkent and the fourth biggest city Karaganda. I also traveled to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. I really liked all of them and the very kind people that I met there. It is a region with a lot of potential and I wish the very best for the younger generation, who I am certain will change these countries for the better.

If you happen to have questions about Kazakhstan and/or UNICEF’s work in Central Asia, feel free to contact me at emma.roenngren@gmail.com

I hope you enjoyed the reading!

Emma