6 ways to successfully engage youths in peace building

By Manola De Vos

Today, more than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict — a majority of which is under the age of 30.

These numbers alone justify the inclusion and consideration of youths in policymaking and planning. But in practice, the meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains.

Fortunately, recent times have witnessed a gradual shift in paradigm. In a concerted effort to promote youths as active leaders and partners in peace processes, the United Nations, Search for Common Ground, and myriad nongovernmental organizations recently launched the Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding, which offer guidance to key stakeholders on meaningful youth engagement in conflict or transition settings. And as recognition of the positive role youths can play in peace building grows, operational guidelines on how to apply the principles will be published later this year.

So how can organizations leverage youth engagement to uproot violence inherent in their communities and countries? Devex asked four youth activists and experts to share some best practices that development leaders — particularly program designers and managers — can apply to give young people the opportunities they need to become agents of peace.

Create spaces for youths to express their opinions — and listen to them

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors with their own views and contributions.

“Youth voices in peace building are present everywhere, but sometimes not recognized,” Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, told Devex. “The creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard.”

In practice, this can be done by encouraging both youth and adults — parents, teachers, nonprofit workers, or community and religious leaders — to support the formation of youth groups that offer young people a chance to formulate their opinions.

Information and communication technology such as UNICEF’s U-report — a free SMS-based platform through which youths can express their views on what is happening in their communities — also offer some promising spaces of expression for meaningful youth participation in peace building.

Enhance the peace-building knowledge and skills of young people

Although most young peace builders create positive impact with minimal resources, it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks that can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

“Training opportunities can range from content-based topics such as conflict or gender to more practical-focused areas such as advocacy or project management,” Dylan Jones, project and gender officer at UNOY Peacebuilders underlined. “By facilitating youth connecting on individual and organizational levels, ideas, challenges and best practices can be organically shared.”

Some of the most successful interventions also find ways to leverage youth interests — arts, sports, media, informal learning and personal relationships — to teach peace-building skills. For instance, Mercy Corps found that youths are more likely to remember conflict management lessons they’ve learned through sports.

Build trust between youths and governments

Youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

To close the gap, activities that promote the legitimization of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial, according to Piet Vroeg, child and education director at Cordaid. As such, joint workshops, community projects or platforms can all help bridge the divide between youths and government officials. It’s also important to encourage young people to learn about national or regional peace priorities while helping them work toward their own peace priorities.

As an example, dozens of local youth councils were established in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia — an initiative that has fostered newfound confidence between youths and local politicians.

“Now, after a couple of years, the youth councils have gained the trust of local government authorities, to the point that when it’s time to decide on the local budgets, these youth councils are being consulted to see if the budget make sense,” Saji Prelis, director for children and youth programs at Search for Common Ground, highlighted.

Promote intergenerational exchange

Rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects seeking the engagement of youths should also include parents and elders.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created.” — Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their entourage. Yet adults might perceive youth-led initiatives as a threat to their own power and position. This points to the need for youth peace-building projects to be accompanied by dialogue and cooperation between young people, their relatives and community elders.

“Seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and participate in awareness-raising among the wider population,” Vroeg suggested.

Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, youths can demonstrate the benefits of their peace actions. Such communication and collaboration channels also enable young people and adults to explore the common problems they face and to tackle them together, thus participating in the emergence of sustainable solutions.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created,” Flemming underlined.

Strengthen monitoring and evaluation

While efficiencies can always be found, monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives capitalizing on youth engagement.

Suffering from a chronic lack of financial support, youth peace-building activities often have very limited ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their work — a situation that seriously impedes the visibility and sustainability of their initiatives.

But beyond increased financial support, innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution must be used — particularly those that build on qualitative evidence and participative approaches.

“Surveys, focus groups and interviews are considered as the gold standard of inquiry, but those are adult methods of articulating evidence and showcasing impact, which ultimately benefit only adults,” Pralis told Devex. “Instead, we should make evaluation conversational and youth-led, as this works for everybody.”

The evaluation process recently started by the Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding — a coalition of local youth groups and international organizations — is particularly illustrative. It allows young people to take an active role in determining evaluation design, data collection methods and information analyses.

Support youths who are positively contributing to their communities.

Finally, it’s crucial to avoid rewarding “bad behavior” by incentivizing young people who are positively contributing to their communities.

Current youth programming focuses much of its attention on young individuals who were troublemakers or soldiers. This effectively rewards youths for joining armed groups — or is at least perceived as doing so by local communities.

“In general, young people feel marginalized and their voices are not heard or trusted as credible. But when they commit violence, the international community rushes in,” Prelis noted. “We have to be more conscious, cautious and thoughtful in our approach to youth engagement and avoid sending the message that we only care about you when you cause harm.”

Simple rewarding systems such as certificates, prizes and scholarships can serve as great incentives for youth. They can also inspire their peers to take action and participate in peace programs.

Further, try to situate your organization’s programming for young people within larger peacebuilding efforts. Without comprehensive efforts to change the underlying factors that contributed to war in the first place, youths might feel that their efforts are in vain.

This articles was first published on Youthwill Build Peace

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What we know about 10 youths honored by President Sisi at World Youth Forum

By Noha El Tawil

In the closing ceremony of the 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF), President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi honored ten youths for remarkable achievements. The following is the biography of each of them.

Farida Bedwei

In 2011, Bedwei co-founded and became the chief technology officer of Logiciel, a Ghanaian software company that develops technology solutions to promote financial inclusion for the unbanked.

Bedwei developed the gKudi Microfinance Platform, a clouded banking system for the microfinance industry, currently being used by over 60 MFI’s across Ghana. According to her Linkedin profile, she started her career in 1998 as a programmer in Soft Company. Three years later, she became senior software architect for Rancard Solutions .

In 2010, she headed the IT department at G-Life Financial Services, and turned into an IT consultant for the company the following year till 2013. Between 2014 and 2016, she was a board member of the National Communications Authority in Ghana.

Bedwei was diagnosed of cerebral palsy at a young age so she became a disability-rights advocate as an adult. She received many local and international awards and was featured in CNN African Voices in 2015.

Takunda Chingozo

In 2013, Chingozo founded in Bulawayo a tech start-up called SaiSai which feeds the companies’ extra bandwidth to the network securing hotspots for free in public areas, including public transportation, according to Venture Burn.

SaiSai won the SWELL Innovation Award a year later at DEMO Africa. In 2015, Chingozo became a public figure in Zimbabwe since he interviewed former U.S. President Barack Obama on stage in the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. At the time, he was part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and an intern at Microsoft in the United States.

In 2016, Chingonzo founded TechVillage which is a co-working space for young entrepreneurs in the information technology sector. It has two locations. One is in Bulawayo stretching over 1,300 square meters and offering co-working space, board rooms and meeting rooms, event spaces, maker workshop, production studio, mobile lab and design center, according to Pindula.

The other is in on campus of the National University of Science and Technology (NUST). It is designed for students interested to learn coding and create products in between their classes.

In 2017, TechVillage launched TechFest which is a multi-day and multi-venue event aiming at introducing and exploring “new local technologies and innovations that will change the status quo and shape industries in the future,” according to Pindula.

Harbeen Arora

Arora, PhD, is the founder and global chairwoman of the ALL Ladies League (ALL) and Women Economic Forum (WEF) having a network of 100,000 women and more than 800 chapters worldwide. WEF is held annually in India, and other countries on a regional scale, according to her website.

Arora is the Chancellor of Rai University in Ahmedabad, Rai Technology University in Bangalore, and Jharkhand Rai University in Ranchi in India. Those provide education for youth from underdeveloped communities in the sectors of agriculture, and capacity building.

Arora authored three books on higher education, human values, and creative living. She founded an organic health and wellness enterprise called BIOAYURVEDA, and other ventures in hi-tech agriculture, organic farming, and sustainable living, according to her website.

Guillermo Martinez

In an interview with Marca Espana earlier this year, Martinez said that he founded in 2017 a startup called Ayudame3D to produce artificial limbs for people with little financial means. The devices “are based on a thread and string mechanism whereby the fingers move into a grip when you move your shoulder, elbow or wrist (depending on the prosthesis),” Martinez told the publication.

The idea came to his mind when he bought a 3D printer two years ago while he was finishing his engineering degree, and used it to print artificial limbs designed to be suitable for a large number of people. He gave those to an orphanage in Kenya run by a charity called Bamba Project that he joined.

Wadi Ben-Hirki

Wadi Bin-Hirki established a foundation carrying her name in Northern Nigeria when she was 20 years old in 2015. The foundation has launched six projects. The objectives of the foundation are indicated below as written on the foundation’s website.

“-To harness and focus on the potentials of the less-privileged children towards skills acquisition for the social and economic growth and development of Nigeria, Africa and the world at large.
– To raise funds for charity homes, schools and colleges to enable children attend at reduced/no cost.
– To support less-privileged children in schools with scholarships and donations of food, shelter, clothing and stationary.
– To give charitable aid to any child or institution, which the Foundation may deem fit.”

Charif Hamidi

Hamidi holds a bachelor degree in finance. He took up jobs pertinent to investment banking and strategy consulting. He designed change programs, socio-economic reforms, investment strategies, future studies, and search-and-matching models for private equity firms to prepare for the fourth industrial revolution, according to his Linkedin profile.

Hamidi is on Forbes 30 Under 30 list for the year 2018, a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, and an Enterprise for Peace scholar at the One Young World. In 2016, Hamidi founded Education 4.0 which is a social enterprise that enables youth to be part of the fourth industrial revolution.

Islam Abu Ali

Radwa Hassan

Hassan is the first visually impaired radio and TV presenter in Egypt. She presents a weekly show every Sunday on Radio 9090, and a segment in a TV show called Al Safira Aziza on DMC channel.

Mahmoud Saad Khaled

Khaled founded in 2016 a data backup company called WiRE Microsystems. He is the designer and coder of the company’s’ XMACHINE which is the world’s fastest integrated system disaster recovery solution, according to his Linkedin profile.

The Ayoub Sisters

Sarah and Laura who are Egyptian – Scottish started their career in 2016. Their album debuted at No.1 in the Official Classical Artist Albums Chart. They performed in many countries and won multiple awards.

Source: Egypt Today

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Ten recommendations by President Sisi in 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF) closing

By Noha El Tawil

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech in the closing session of the 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El Sheikh whereas he announced 10 decisions in relation to recommendations by the conference’s participants.

1) Aswan is named the capital of African youth for the year 2019. This year, the MAAS will convene to examine challenges and issues.

2) Sharm El Sheikh will be the meeting point of African and Arab states integration.

3) The National Academy for Youth Training and Rehabilitation is assigned to set mechanisms to train Arab and African on leadership in the political, economic, and social realms.

4) All Arab states should conquer that the right to live is a human right, and unite to provide aid for terrorism and violence victims.

5) The formation of a research group observed by the WYF administration to study the impact of social media use to benefit from its positive effects and avoid its negative influences.

6) State institutions must collaborate with participants to set a strategy to raise awareness on water security.

7) The launch of an international initiative to train 10,000 youths on gaming and app development, and to found 100 companies in Egypt and Africa.

8) All state institutions must collaborate to establish a regional entrepreneurship centre in Egypt to provide different types of training needed.

9) The formation of a committee to run the Humanity Revival Memorial to become an international organization that preserves human values and provides support for terrorism victims.

10) The Cabinet is assigned to form a committee comprising the ministries of social solidarity and foreign affairs, and concerned state institutions to review the NGOs law holding a social dialogue and examining the experiences of other countries in that domain.

The 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF) concluded on Nov.6 by presenting recommendations and honoring youths who made remarkable achievements in different fields. Dozens of panel and roundtable discussions took place on Nov.4 – 5.

The opening held on Nov.3 featured four key speakers who are Yazidi Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, founder of Egyptian Streets publication Mohamed Khairat, Zondwa Mandela, and Hany Milad Hanna, son of the author of the “The Seven Pillars of Egyptian identity” book.

On the sidelines, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated the World Youth Theater, the Reviving Humanity Memorial, Start up Vein, and Freedom. E. In addition to more than 5,000 youth participants, the forum’s sessions were attended by foreign and local high profile delegates.

Source: Egypt Today

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World Youth Forum (WYF) success, thanks to multiple young efforts, coordinator

By Egypt Today staff

In the speech she gave at the closing session of 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF), the public coordinator of WYF, Aya Ateya, was keen to express her mixed feelings due to the closure of the International event.

Ateya expressed her happiness after saluting the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al Sisi and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar El Bashir, as she witnesses the final day of the WYF, also she said that she feels a little upset for ending the exceptional event.

“Allow me to say that success is never an easy thing to achieve, we all know that, but through this experience I learned that no one can solely succeed, and this is the true magic of success,” Ateya said about the significant outcomes of the WYF.

The young female addressed the challenges facing the young individuals in Egypt as they are attempting to balance between their enthusiasm and common sense, a predicament faced by all generations, she explained.

“We can say that the success of the WYF is a series of successes that started with an initiative by His Excellency the President to announced 2016 a year of Egyptian youths,” Ateya added.

Ateya attributed the WYF’s success to the mass efforts exerted by several young Egyptian prodigies. Ateya praised the attendees for their contribution as well in the success of 2018 World Youth Forum.

“We can say that the success of the WYF is a series of successes that started with an initiative by His Excellency the President to announced 2016 a year of Egyptian youths,” She added.

Ateya further said that the success of the annual International event of WYF started two years earlier, when President Sisi announced that the year 2016 is the year of the youth in Egypt. Sisi’s initiative led to two significant steps, the presidential program to qualify the youth for official posts and the annual events organized by promising young individuals, added Ateya in her speech.

“I stand here today, not because I love giving speeches, on the contrary, I merely speak on behalf of a very big team that contributed to the success we witness today… all of you are part of this team,” Aya Ateya.

“The president’s initiative paved the way for the existence of the young prodigies who organized the annual World Youth Forum,” WYF Public Coordinator Aya Ateya .

Moreover, she commended the Egyptian leader’s decision to assign young people to organize the international event, as an affirmation to the responsibility he lays in young people.

“The World Youth Forum was created to tell youths all over the world that their time has time,… when Mr. President decided to sponsor the conference and send the invitations under his name, he was telling world leaders that the time for young people has come.”

Ateya concluded her speech by promising the continuation of the international event, as long as communication between the youth all over the world lasts.

“There is no such thing as an easy success, you must encounter obstacles, and even if you had to start all over again, all these pressures will make you search within your inner self to reveal and harness your true potential and strength to move on and succeed.”

Source: Egypt Today

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Sisi calls for establishment of African Youth City in Egypt

By Lolwa Reda

During a session titled, “How do we build future leaders?”, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called for the establishment of an African Youth City in Egypt as part of the recommendations of the second edition of the World Youth Forum.

The city, Sisi explained, would not only allow African youths to participate in international conferences in Egypt but will also receive African youths throughout the year.

The aim of establishing the Youth City of Africa in Egypt is to talk with the youth of the African continent and to qualify them for leading positions, explained the Egyptian President.

“Egypt is interested in the experiences of the youths and its success,” Sisi said, continuing, “We will make one of the recommendations that we make this the ‘City for African Youths,’ as suggested during this session. I hope that the committee that puts down the recommendations, put this recommendation.”

The second annual edition of the WYF will tackle two main axes: peace and development. The forum will bring together 5,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from across the world to explore key issues facing their generation, and determine their role in implementing the global development goals and in facing terrorism.

The first axis will discuss reconstructing post-conflict countries and societies, the role of world leaders in achieving peace, the duty of the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and counter-terrorism, and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

The axis of development will include topics related to energy and water security, empowerment of people with disabilities, the role of voluntary work in building societies, the agenda of 2063 African Sustainable Development, digital citizenship, the role of art and cinema in shaping communities, ways to build future leaders, and means of shrinking the gender gap in the work force.
The WYF 2018 agenda

According to the agenda of the World Youth Forum, on Nov. 1 and 2, the forum witnessed pre-workshops related to the “agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” and “Empowering Persons with Disabilities: Towards a More Integrated World.”

The opening of the World Youth Theater took place on Friday, November 2. The actual discussion sessions are planned to start on November 4, where participants will discuss a number of issues, including differences among cultures and civilizations, the role of world leaders in building and sustaining peace, the role of soft power in countering ideological extremism and terrorism, and Day Zero: Water security in the wake of climate change.

On November 5, the sessions will tackle the role of entrepreneurs and start-ups in global economic growth, rebuilding societies and states after conflicts, narrowing the gender gap in the labor market and humanitarian assistance: A global responsibility in the face of challenges.

The forum’s closing session and the announcement of the World Youth Forum 2018’s recommendations will take place on Nov. 6.

Source: Egypt Today

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