Youth – Partnership, Ownership and Leadership

Photo: ActionAid

… if youth cannot own the issue or programme, it will not work.

- Suraiya Hasan, Badhon Mannob Unnayan Sangstha, Bagherhaat

The dialogue with Adriano Campolina, Chief Executive of ActionAid International (AAI), brought together a diverse youth audience consisting of adolescents, ethnic and religious minorities, urban slum dwellers, leaders of youth clubs and foundations, former Child Sponsorship programme participants, as well as, those in tertiary levels of education. The candid discussion was around key priorities for youth such as decent jobs, migration, harassment, climate change, disaster preparedness and management and building networks.

They challenged ActionAid to consider its approach to working with young people. Nearly all participants recognised that organisations increasingly sought to work with young people but only brought them on board at the time of implementation which did not enable their meaningful participation from the inception.

Engaging with youth means connecting with the youth agenda and their interests – not the priority of the individual and/or organisation. In order to meaningfully engage with the youth of today, effort has to be made to nourish youth initiatives and means to support their ongoing initiatives found.

Provide small youth organisations or clubs with the knowledge of how to write proposals, raise funds and connect them to networks. This way once the engagement with a particular organisation ends, they are still able to continue their work and mission because they’ve learnt how to navigate the environment.

- Korvi Rakshand, Founder, JAAGO Foundation

Johura Akter Srity, who leads ‘Kishor O Jubo Parishad’, and the other young female participants acknowledged that whilst advocating for change can be challenging facing socio-cultural norms in society, the additional factor that compounds the situation is also the ability to connect with those in power. As such going forward, they suggested that ActionAid in its role as a “convener” and “facilitator” promote young women in structures and coalitions that enable them to engage with key decision makers at different levels.

In prioritising youth in the upcoming strategy, they suggested prioritisation of increasing youth participation and mainstreaming across all programme interventions, providing funds, enable youth to engage in policy and legislative revisions and focus on communicating the work based on the diverse youth audience.

In reflecting on the evening’s dialogue, the AAI CE reconfirmed about the key areas of discussion and also acknowledged the current bottlenecks faced by youth in decision making. He called for revising of programming in ensuring that there are strong collaborations at the local, national and international levels. He also acknowledged the necessity to strike the balance between the different roles of ActionAid as a convener, support and organisational development.

Youth groups request entrepreneurship because of their needs. Young people are involved in doing social work but they need jobs at the end of the day to ensure their families are well.

- Mominul Islam, Youth Action for Social Change

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Fourteen young women and men from across the country had the opportunity to meet and discuss with Adriano Campolina on the 5th of October 2016. They not only articulated their actions in their communities but also suggested areas for expanded work under the new strategy for the ActionAid Federation.