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Cordaid NL

Partner with youth and put them at the front row of peacebuilding and development

On June 30th, Cordaid will bring together development professionals and young leaders from across the globe to engage in meaningful partnerships. The expert meeting also premieres videos of young filmmakers from Yemen, Mali, and other conflict-affected settings, showing youth’s perseverance in breaking down barriers of exclusion and fostering social change.

Young people are the majority in a lot of conflict-affected countries. Their contributions to society as peacebuilders, artists, political and social activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators, are undeniable and often prove to be an antidote to extremism and intolerance. In crisis areas the world over, they are a source of change for the better.

“Those who are in power, the elderly generation, simply do not believe in us.”

Yet, especially in fragile settings, youth disproportionally face harsh barriers of exclusion and power imbalance, politically, socially, and economically. Age works against them. And for young women, gender inequity comes on top of that. Instead of being invited to meaningfully participate in solving conflicts and shaping the future of their villages, their cities, and their countries, they are sidetracked. When they raise their voices, they’re not listened to. Or imprisoned.

Voices from Mali and Yemen

But as Fanta Bathily, a young Malian leader working with Cordaid, points out, silence is not an option they easily consider. “As a general rule, women are not allowed to take part in village assemblies. Let alone young women”, she says. “That is something that has to change. As a young woman, I have the right to speak out and to participate in decision-making, on all levels in my country. And I will continue going from village to village on my motorbike, propagating that right and discussing it with others. Even if village elders challenge what I do. They even challenge me for wearing pants. It won’t stop me.”

Someone who won’t be stopped either is Maimona Almoalem. She works and lives in the besieged city of Taiz, in war-torn Yemen. “Yemen’s youth are extremely active. Despite the fear, the grief, and the suffocation of war, we are increasing our skills and our talents. Essentially, being young means chasing your dreams. But here, kids younger than myself only know war. They don’t even have dreams anymore”, Maimona explains.

“When young people have the possibility to shape the programmes and decisions that affect their lives, these programmes yield more impact.”

“We should be actively involved in peacebuilding, solving conflicts, and in stopping the horrors. But the opportunities to do that are extremely slim. The main reason is that those who are in power, the elderly generation, simply do not believe in us. But I will go on, reaching out and supporting kids in my street. Studying, writing. Traveling around, crossing checkpoints, fighting ignorance and narrowmindedness, defending our rights to live a life without fear. And starting my own business! The conflict won’t stop me.”

Expert meeting

Both Fanta and Maimona are on the speaker’s list of the Meaningful Youth Engagement in Partnerships for Development event on June 30th. The expert meeting will host young panelists from Yemen, Mali, Iraq, and Uganda. It will also introduce Cordaid’s Youth Engagement Scorecard,  a user-friendly tool to increase the meaningful participation of youth in peacebuilding and development initiatives.

“Our main purpose is to invite policy and decision-makers and development practitioners to meet and engage with inspirational young talents who are working at the forefront of peacebuilding and social change in very challenging contexts”, says the event’s organizer and Youth Engagement Expert Sabina Atzei. “Evidence has shown that when young people have the possibility to shape the programmes and decisions that affect their lives, these programmes yield more impact”, she adds.

The event also includes the Young people Behind Cameras film festival. The Young people Behind Cameras initiative invited young filmmakers to produce video stories of their realities and challenges. In an online session, video artists from Mali, Uganda, Iraq, and Yemen will present their videos and answer questions.

Care to join? Please register before June 25th

The event will take place on June 30th, 13:00 – 16:30. A limited number of participants will be present at the event’s location, the Cordaid Global Office in The Hague. There will be a live stream for online participants. This invitation shows the full programme and other details of the event.  To join online please register by sending an email to Sabina Atzei before June 29th.