UNICEF and Digi strengthen long-standing commitment to protect child rights

Press Release
April 26, 2021

MOU continues partnership to deliver large-scale projects with a focus on reducing inequalities and advocate for children’s rights in the digital age.

SUBANG JAYA, 26 APRIL 2021 – UNICEF and Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi) have extended their long-running partnership via a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This renewed partnership will see both organisations collaborate on projects related to digital inclusion and digital resilience, and continue to advocate for children’s rights in the digital age. The MoU builds on the global partnership between Telenor Group and UNICEF, which leverages Telenor’s digital platforms to reduce inequalities, while enhancing children and young people’s skills for the digital future.

The MOU was signed by Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, UNICEF Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam and Joachim Rajaram, Digi’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer in Kuala Lumpur recently. As one of the founding members of the UN Global Compact in Malaysia, Digi first partnered with UNICEF in 2012 on initiatives surrounding child rights and business principles, as well as other critical issues related to the welfare of children in Malaysia since.

“We are very happy to partner with Digi, one of our long-term partners and strong supporter of children’s rights,” said Dr Rashed. “A key focus of this partnership is to protect children in online spaces, as they are equally vulnerable there as they are anywhere else. This year, UNICEF is celebrating its 75th anniversary. It is an opportunity to reimagine the digital world, and private sector partnerships for every child.”

According to Joachim, the partnership is made possible by the shared vision of both parties to protect children’s rights and reducing inequalities through positive use of technology and accessibility to the internet.

“We strongly believe that partnerships are the most effective way to scale and maximise positive impact on the communities and economies we operate in. Digi has been championing digital resilience and Safer Internet for all in the past decade through our flagship Safe Internet programme, and are proud to partner with UNICEF to effect a more sustainable change for Malaysia’s future generation. Our work with UNICEF is an extension of our Yellow Heart promise to empower more Malaysians with skills for an accelerated digital future,” said Joachim.

In 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, Digi and UNICEF collaborated with Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and Ministry of Education (MOE) for a three-year Future Skills for all initiative to digitalise computer and technology school subjects and make e-learning easier for school children. The two parties have also hosted the #ENDViolence Youth Talk to raise awareness on interventions on issues around child bullying and online violence.

Working together to create a better future for our children
To commemorate the long-standing partnership, UNICEF and Digi held a virtual dialogue to highlight the issues that children face during the COVID-19 pandemic and drive better understandings on the role of education and technology in their wellbeing.

The virtual dialogue saw Dr Rashed; Dr. Sumitra Nair, Vice President and Head of Digital Skills and Jobs of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC); Allison Low, President of PJ Child Council, and Manisha Dogra, Vice President and Head of Sustainability, Asia of Telenor Group shared their thoughts on the increased participation of children on online platforms and the benefits and risks they might face.

Also present at the event was Her Excellency Gunn Jorid Roset, Ambassador of Norway to Malaysia and Philip Ling, Digi’s Head of Sustainability.

Dr. Sumitra Nair, Vice President and Head of Digital Skills and Jobs at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC)
“The government and the telecommunications industry have come together under national initiatives such as MyDigital and JENDELA to address the connectivity gap, but there pertains another issue of the opportunity gap where youth need to be given the tools and knowledge to leverage technology to creatively solve problems. However, one single organization cannot potentially address this problem holistically. It is MDEC’s priority to ensure that all Malaysians are digitally skilled and can tap into the opportunities that technology can bring through public-private partnerships like this.”

Ms. Allison Low, President, Petaling Jaya Child Council
“During this pandemic, we have found that although children are spending more time online, 52% of them do not feel safe due to online harm and risks such as cyberbullying, cyber-grooming, child sexual exploitation and privacy issues. Thus, I believe there is no finish line to the refinement of the digital environment for the safety of children and it is especially important to involve the participation of the youth in actualising such programmes. I hope we can continue to empower more youth-to-youth movements and digital safety programmes co-led by children because children are the stakeholders of our future.”

Ms. Manisha Dogra, Vice President and Head of Sustainability Asia, Telenor Group
“At Telenor we firmly believe that internet access is a transformative tool to empower societies, reduce inequalities and advance ideas across the world. While children are not our direct customers, we do know that children and youth are among the most prolific users of the internet. Children are spending a lot more time online due to the pandemic – making it critical to be aware of new harms and risks that come with the internet. Children and their immediate ecosystem need to be equipped with knowledge and tools to identify and tackle these challenges effectively. It is our role as an international technology provider to continue working with global and local partners towards our goal of providing a safer internet experience for all. At Telenor, we have, and will continue to champion child online safety and building skills for an accelerated digital future across our nine markets.”

For more information on Digi’s Yellow Heart efforts, visit https://www.digi.com.my/yellow-heart.