CEPPS is proud to announce its inaugural Democratic Elections and Political Processes (DEPP) Youth Advisory Council (YAC)! Members of the five-person advisory group were selected from a highly competitive global pool, and include: Kamrunnahar Ritu (Bangladesh), Martin Loza (Ecuador), Dema Elya (Netherlands), Oluwafemi John Adebayo (Nigeria), and Samantha Bagayas (Philippines).
What is the DEPP YAC?
Throughout their tenure, the DEPP YAC members will support the CEPPS consortium in strengthening inclusive youth priorities throughout programming. This includes developing guidelines for integrating youth-focused activities under the DEPP Award. The YAC will also raise awareness of effective best practices for working with marginalized youth activists in democratic and civic spaces.
Who are the DEPP YAC Members?
The DEPP YAC members are a diverse group of young DRG leaders who bring with them extensive experience working together for and with young people in their communities. Here is more from these outstanding leaders in their own words:
Kamrunnahar Ritu (Bangladesh): Despite the challenges presented by a physical disability that impedes my mobility, I am currently a fourth-year student in the Department of Women and Gender Studies at the University of Dhaka. I have actively participated in workshops and training programs including those organized by CEPPS/IFES such as the “Youth Leadership Workshop on Climate Change and Elections”, “Democracy Theory to Practice” and “The Power to Persuade: Empower Women with Disabilities”. These experiences have fortified my commitment to fostering inclusivity, as evident in my initiative, “Opening Doors: Making Washrooms Accessible for All”. This program was successful and I was given assurance that they will make accessible washrooms for disabled students at the University of Dhaka. In the leadership realm, I serve as the Corporate Networking Secretary for the Physically Challenged Development Foundation at Dhaka University, contributing to the cause from November 2022. Additionally, I hold executive positions in “Beyond Washroom” and “SAVE Youth”, where I co-lead the Youth Disability and Inclusion team. I believe the need is urgent for equality in our society, particularly regarding women, persons with disabilities, and the LGBTQI+ community.
Martin Loza (Ecuador):I am a geographer and a specialist in Projects for Development from Ecuador. Since 2018, I have been promoting the use of open data for transparency, democracy, and citizen oversight. In 2019, I was chosen as a Young Leader in Open Government by the Government of Canada. I have led projects promoting the inclusion of youth in citizen participation processes. Additionally, I have coordinated projects to promote informed voting among the youth and the monitoring of electoral processes. I am currently a Project Officer at Datalat Foundation, an Ecuadorian NGO that focuses on promoting digital rights.
Dema Elya (Netherlands):As a young girl who grew up in the Middle East, I was always aware of the impact of politics. I knew that if I wanted to see change in the world, then I had to be the change. This is why I am studying International Relations & Organizations at Leiden University. And also why I am contributing to the mandate of the Council of Europe as the youth delegate from the Netherlands to the congress of local and regional authorities.
Oluwafemi John Adebayo (Nigeria):I am an experienced Democracy Data Analyst and Electoral Security Expert with multiple civically engaged research areas such as Electoral Security Management, Electoral Justice System, Countering Authoritarian Influence in democracies, Pro-youth Policy Development, and Positive Youth Development. In the last six years, I have actively collaborated with issue-based groups to articulate policy concerns, mobilize young Nigerians for peaceful and active participation in elections, and amplify youth-led responses to COVID-19 across 25 African countries. My advocacy efforts have contributed to the passage of a Youth Development Commission Bill in Osun State and electoral justice reforms in Nigeria.
Samantha Bagayas (Philippines): I serve as the head of civic engagement at a news website called, “Rappler”. As part of Rappler’s civic engagement arm, “MovePH”, I have led several campaigns promoting active civic participation, media and information literacy, and fact-checking with different organizations and schools in the Philippines. Among the campaigns I’m overseeing as part of the project management team is #FactsFirstPH, a first-of-a-kind initiative that aims to debunk dubious claims online, make facts spread faster and farther than hate and lies, flag disinformation narratives and actors, and hold online perpetrators accountable. I have also led and guided volunteers and campus journalists across the Philippines to help amplify issues affecting their communities through stories and campaigns with Rappler. As part of MovePH, I write stories about issues that involve the community. I am particularly interested in writing about movements and efforts promoting youth empowerment and civic engagement; tackling disaster risk reduction and management; and combatting disinformation.
To learn more about CEPPS’s youth inclusion work under the DEPP Award, please visit this link.