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As members of the CEPPS YAG, each of us has a unique story that drives us to advocate for more democratic, inclusive, and sustainable societies that transform our lives. Through the YAG, we have had the opportunity to share our experiences, empathize with each other over the struggles we face as young leaders, and collaborate on finding solutions to shared challenges. Despite our different backgrounds and experiences, what binds us together is a passion for change and the shared goal of creating a better and more inclusive future for everyone.
One of the essential features of the DRG CSI is that we prioritize young leaders and youth voices when examining political and social advocacy. CEPPS puts our perspectives and experiences first. They consult with us when considering the obstacles that young people face in our societies and the strategies that can be implemented to respond to these challenges in an inclusive way that considers all sectors.
We were also provided with tools and opportunities to gain in-depth knowledge on cross-sectoral approaches and how to use these approaches to engage young people across different sectors. The DRG CSI program has been a learning opportunity as we interact with one another and build new relationships, as well as strengthen our technical skills through research, workshops, and discussions on youth civic participation and creating opportunities for young people to participate in new and different ways.
As we complete our tenure with the YAG, we will share these tools and resources with our communities, organizations, and in our future projects, continuing to advocate for young people’s civic and political engagement in our societies. We thank CEPPS and its partners for this opportunity, for the experiences gained, and for allowing us to meet inspiring people from across the globe.
The CEPPS Youth Advisory Group
Rosemarie Ramitt: I am from Guyana and have been an educator and a disability rights advocate for more than seven years. I currently serve as the Coordinator of the Women with Disabilities Network for the Guyana Council of Organizations for Persons with Disabilities.
David Aragort: I’m a digital rights advocate and researcher from Venezuela working at the intersection of technology, democracy, and human rights, with a focus on the internet, freedom of expression, and digital authoritarianism.
Ruth Ngozire: I’m from Kenya where I am an environmental educator and youth mentor at Eden Thriving Environmental Organization, a climate change expert and youth climate innovation advisor at Kenya Ecosystem Restoration Alliance, and a research and communications person in Regenerative Safari for Climate Change.
Milagros Beltran: I am from Córdoba, Argentina where I am a political science student and an advocate for women’s and LGBTQI+ communities.
Nayem Molla: I’m a disability rights advocate, peace activist, and young changemaker from Bangladesh.
Rashyd Bilalov: I’m from Ukraine where I am a civic activist and a co-founder of the NGO Youth Democratic Association which unites young democratic champions throughout Ukraine to promote active citizenship and democratic values through education and public engagement.
With rapid globalization and the spread of information around the world, we have seen ongoing discussions about what it takes to maintain a democracy, how people can defend their rights and influence decision-making processes in their communities, and how governments can open spaces to diverse voices. With best practices and lessons learned shared across the globe through digital platforms and social media, we have found that it is not enough for young people to vote in the electoral processes; we must also act throughout the electoral cycle.
Young people have the interest and skills to engage in civic and political processes but often face barriers to formal channels of decision-making. As YAG members, we know that young people are not apathetic or disinterested. Rather, young people, especially those who are marginalized, such as young people with disabilities or young Indigenous people, can and should have access to all forms of engagement, both formal and non-formal, across sectors.
Cross-sectoral approaches can address these barriers and encourage leadership in all processes, working towards long-term, meaningful change. Cross-sectoral initiatives can bring young people and other democratic actors together to discuss significant trends and solve urgent global issues. As a diverse and sizable global population, young people’s meaningful engagement in civic and political processes can build stronger and more vibrant democracies.
To determine how young people participate and collaborate across different sectors, practitioners need to identify the barriers and opportunities facing youth across all sectors. The YAG conducted a global survey that reached more than 200 participants across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America.
Based on the survey results, the YAG prioritized the understanding and accessibility of CEPPS resources to young people from different backgrounds through explanatory videos and executive summaries to the cross-sectoral toolkit and social behavior change toolkit. The aim of these resources is to familiarize young leaders with the tools developed by CEPPS, enabling them to utilize them not only to enhance their own skills but also for the execution of projects and initiatives that promote youth empowerment and effective participation in political processes in their own communities.
While in Washington, DC in June, members of the YAG sat down to discuss their work. Tune in now to hear what they had to say!
“The [CEPPS] program gave me courage and confidence to share my insights elsewhere, including on national television on matters related to youths and climate change.” – Ruth Ngozire
As their year on the YAG ends, group members have reflected on what they have learned and what they will take back to their communities.