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International youth day: young people for change

11 August 2017 International youth day: young people for change

As a large proportion of the population in most conflict-affected countries, young people bear the brunt of the consequences including death, injury, exploitation, poverty and displacement. While many young people actively participate in conflicts, they are given little or no say in how to resolve them.

But young people have huge potential to demand change from their leaders and build peace. Despite exclusion from political decisions and little access to resources, young people create political movements that lead to transformative change.

For International Youth Day, we take a look at how we are working with young people around the world to encourage peacebuilding and inspire creative and inclusive ideas for solving local problems.

How we work with young people

In East Africa, we work jointly with young people in Sudan and South Sudan – through trainings, dialogue forums, and providing small grants to youth groups – to strengthen their ability to participate in peacebuilding processes. In South Sudan, we facilitate discussions between young people and communities, touching on topics such as alcoholism, drug abuse and theft, and working together to find solutions to security challenges. As a result, participants formed hobby groups, such as basketball teams, a football club and music bands. In the run up to the current national elections, we have been working with youth in Kenya to map potential conflict hotspots in an effort to maintain peace.

In Central Asia, our Kyrgyzstan team improves inter-ethnic relations and builds peace by bringing together diverse groups of young people to discuss shared concerns and identify solutions. We support young men and women to become ‘youth ambassadors’, developing their leadership skills to advocate for inclusive dialogue on peace and security issues within their communities.

In the Middle East and North Africa, we support Yemeni youth activists with their peacebuilding efforts during a time of active conflict. Our small grants help these groups to host interactive theatre shows, discussions and events, among other things. We’ve supported peace through social media campaigns, including the ‘Let’s Coexist’ video and “Make Art, Not War” with Yemeni street artist Murad Subay. We recently connected young activists from all over Yemen through WhatsApp, providing training on peacebuilding concepts and ideas.     

In South and South East Asia, we bring together different youth groups in Bangladesh and Nepal to focus on issues relating to security, conflict prevention and democratic participation. Together they discuss youth-related issues – including drug use, gender-based violence, and resource distribution – and plan how to tackle them.

Learn more about our work with youth: