How can we authentically and meaningfully engage with the young people within and around our spheres of influence and power as Champions of the global International Gender Champions network?
This was one of the main questions Champions from the Geneva, Vienna and New York Hubs discussed during our third Time to Talk - Champion Conversation Series.
On Tuesday, 25 May 2021, Casey Harden of the World YWCA convened with Alice Ruhweza of Worldwide Fund for Nature International, Ambassador Manizha Bakhtari of Afghanistan to Vienna and Ambassador Markova Concepción Jaramillo of Panama to New York for a private conversation on youth engagement.
The Session opened with recognising that it is absent of young people’s voices in their diversity, particularly young women and girls. Champions met from the standpoint of non-exclusion of young people, working towards the inclusion of youth voices in their spheres of influence.
The group shared their personal and professional experiences of working as youth and with today’s younger leaders, affirming that all the connections we make brings us valuable teachings.
Champions explored what steps they can take to allow a deeper dive into their personal commitments by asking questions such as “What steps can I take to ensure that youth leadership is diverse?”, “Do I have a younger person in my office who can give me honest feedback and criticism?” and “How do I embrace the opening of a safe space?”.
As a result of this conversation, Champions identified four ways for meaningful youth engagement:
- Open participation of young people in decision-making, during identifying needs and opportunities, design and planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation – not only ask, “What do you think?” but share both authority and accountability.
- Practice active and curious listening, free from judgment, stigma, and discrimination.
- Share prolonged opportunities where many doors can open for the same person.
- Provide funding for those with limited access to technology to do so – including young people from marginalized communities and with disabilities.
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