Mobilization and Empowerment

Printer-friendly version

Mobilization and Empowerment

Groups and projects in this section promote a culture of democracy by mobilizing and empowering youth to become active citizens, to engage in various campaigns, self-governance structures within their schools, universities, and societies, to think critically about issues affecting their society, and to galvanize reforms in their regions.

Belarusian Student Association-
The Belarusian Student Association (BSA) is the country's oldest and largest pro-democracy youth group. It was formed in 1988 and organized student strike committees that helped Belarus gain independence in 1991. The BSA defends students' rights and promotes their interests at higher education institutions in Belarus. It has organized numerous democracy-building projects, including programs on students' rights, student publishing, self-government, and student movements. Based in Minsk, the BSA has 21 branches in 12 cities throughout Belarus.

The Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists - Jordan
The Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) provides legal advice, support, training and resources to journalists in their struggle for an independent free press. The Center seeks to educate Jordanian youth about the role and functions of independent media and to empower them to play a role in defending freedom of the press. The Center holds workshops for youth focusing on media issues, including the role of a free press in a democratic system, the responsibilities of independent journalists, the mechanics and techniques of news and investigative reporting, press laws in Jordan, international media advocacy organizations, the code of ethics for journalists and media accountability, and the public's right to know. These issues are framed in the broader context of international human rights principles and covenants. Youth organizations and universities assist the Center in selecting interested youth to take part in the workshops and in organizing the sessions. After the workshops, CDFJ works to integrate participants into ongoing activities and initiatives as volunteers, and makes its resources and publications available to participants.

Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee - Somaliland
The Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee (HAVOYOCO), based in Somaliland, was founded in 1992 by the youth of Hargeisa. HAVOYOCO seeks to deepen understanding of democracy, human rights, and good governance in Somaliland, to educate Somalilanders on elections, to empower youth to participate in politics and to strengthen the capacity of youth civic groups. HAVOYOCO uses a variety of tools to promote its mission, such as training and advocacy workshops, vocational training, assistance to street children, and a traveling circus. The circus performances, which highlight acrobatic and juggling displays, are interspersed with skits and civic education messages. Circus performers are mostly teenagers, including street children who have been provided shelter and vocational training at the HAVOYOCO facility. HAVOYOCO's capacity building workshops for youth NGOs and networks focus on good governance, human rights, and increasing youth participation in decision making.

Humanitarian Legal Center - Uzbekistan
The Humanitarian Legal Center in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, supports legal and humanitarian activities and the development of civil society in three regions of Uzbekistan: Bukhara, Sukhandarya, and Kashkandarya. Facing a lack of activism among Uzbek youth, who have not asserted themselves on issues of specific interest to them, such as university governance, stipends,other socio-economic concerns, and freedoms of speech and assembly, the Center strives to learn more about the views, values, and ambitions of youth. In order to develop an effective way of stimulating young people to grater political participation, the Center has launched an in-depth study on the attitudes prevailing among the youth of Bukhara. It works with six educational institutions conducting a pilot study and a poll, which focus on youth attitudes toward the upcoming elections, sensitive social problems, including clan-based politics, corruption, and youth perceptions of their status and role in society.

Innovations in Civic Participation--USA
Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP) is a non-profit social change organization that provides expertise, ideas, information, research, and advocacy support in the United States and around the world to develop and strengthen policies and programs that promote civic engagement through service. ICP produces Service News Worldwide (SNW), a monthly newsletter that focuses on youth service policies and programs around the world. The goal of the newsletter is to highlight information pertaining to the rapidly evolving field of youth civic service. Among the integral components of SNW are: updates on new service programs and initiatives; articles on work in progress regarding service policy development; a spotlight on ideas in the service community; a forum for discussion of various issues; information on upcoming events and opportunities. Its readers are encouraged to submit information on what is happening in various countries in the field of service and volunteering.

The Navinki Newspaper --Belarus
Navinki is one of the leading independent youth publications in Belarus. The team that produces Navinki also conducts other popular youth-related activities and projects, including concerts, festivals, and discussion clubs, theatre productions, weekly productions of political cabaret. Navinki also it maintains a library and an anti-fascist center. Among the achievements of Navinki is the production of a film, "It Happened to a Lad," which reflects on a seriers of issues facing the youth in Belarus. The main character of this film, Yura, who represents the summary portrait of Belarusian youth, finds himself at the center of political intrigues, and is forced to take a stand on a number of issues.

Resource Center for Youth Enforcing Culture of Democracy -United Kingdom
The Warren, a resource center for young people in Hull, England, offers a variety of free services to socio-economically deprived young people in an effort to empower them both politically an socially. The Centre offers counseling, opportunities to record music, health projects, skills training, and sessions on various challenging political and social issues. For example, the center held a seminar on "Voting and Young People." As a result of this session, 9 of its participants who had never voted before immediately registered to vote. The unique feature of this center is that the centre itself is run in a democratic way by the youth involved with the center. Every week there is a meeting, "The Thing" (Icelandic or Viking for an assembly or meeting place), of all the young people involved with the center and the staff. At the meeting they debate and vote on issues, like policies, projects, activities, campaigns, and budgets (budgeting for all areas is done once a year). Although all staff members participate in the debates, the final decision is based on the vote of the young people. The recruiting decisions for vacant positions are also influenced by the young people, who elect representatives for various interview panels. These panels mostly consist of young people who, prior to serving on the panel, are trained in recruitment skills by the Warren Center. Each project area has a lot of autonomy, but they all have to report back to the "Thing" and are accountable for their actions.

School for Shan State Nationalities Youth - Burma (Thailand)
The School for Shan State Nationalities Youth (SSSNY) was founded in 2001 by Shan youth involved in a variety of projects to assist Shan refugees in the areas of youth development, women's rights, the environment, emergency relief, human rights, media, and health. The SSSNY provides training in English, computers, and other basic skills. Students also learn about pressing social, political, and environmental issues. SSSNY places high priority on training Shan youth who have demonstrated commitment to improving the political, economic, educational, social, and health conditions in Shan State. Past classes have trained members of several local NGOs.

Students' Thought -- Belarus
Students' Thought is an independent magazine based in Minsk published by and for students. Students' Thought presents articles on social, political and economic issues important to youth and plays an important role in disseminating information about youth NGO activities, youth employment opportunities, international exchange programs, higher education issues, and student movements in Belarus. Students' Thought promotes democratic ideas among young people in Belarus' emerging civil society and encourages them to take an active part in social and political processes. Through its up-to-date Web site, surveys, and writing competitions among the readers, Students' Thought encourages debate and independent thinking. The magazine's staff makes a special effort to respond to everyone who writes to them, or asks for help or assistance, believing that this effort would encourage young people to be active and shows them that they are not alone. In addition, Students' Thought has played a more active role in assisting different youth groups, through, for example, sponsoring youth music and advertising festivals. In the late 2003, the magazine implemented a broad civic campaign called "Be active, Be creative," aimed at the engagement and activism of young people in Belarus.

Student Union of Serbia - Serbia
Founded in 1992, the Student Union of Serbia (SUS) is a nonpartisan organization comosed of student unions organized at dozens university across Serbia. The SUS encourages greater student involvement in the country's general reform efforts and represents student interests on a number of university campuses in Serbia. The SUS conducts national SUS membership drives, works to establish new chapters, organizes campaigns for higher education reforms, distributes information materials related to students' rights and interests, and trains student leaders in organizational and leadership skills. The SUS has cooperated with a number of NGOs throughout Serbia, including Otpor (Resistance) Student Movement and Nezavisnot trade union federation. It has played a key role in student protests of 1996-1997, helped create an anti-war campaign. The Union was particularly active during anti-regime protests which led to Milosovic's removal from power in 2000. Recently, SUS was successful in repealing a Milosovic era University law and replacing it with a new legislation governing Serbia's higher education.

TOG-Community Volunteers Foundation - Turkey
Based in Istanbul, Turkey, the TOG-Community Volunteers Foundation encourages young volunteers from every corner of the country to address a wide range of social problems facing Turkey. Community Volunteers' vision is to realize social peace, solidarity and change through the participation and leadership of the youth. TOG seeks to contribute to the formation of a youth with social awareness and self-esteem; to encourage young volunteers to develop and realize various social service projects; and to transform the energy of youth toward social benefit. The volunteer projects are run by university students, and focus on a variety of educational, social and cultural services to local high schools and communities. Elected representatives of university volunteers from each region meet regularly at the youth councils to share experiences, best practices, and discuss plans for future.

Youth Alternative - Ukraine or
Youth Alternative aims to encourage young people to participate in Ukraine's political life. Formed in 1994, it plays an active role in increasing voter participation among the young people through distributing get-out-the-vote literature and organizing rock concerts in various cities emphasizing the importance of voting. In 1995, Youth Alternative initiated its "Students for Parliament" project that organizes student internships in the Ukrainian Parliament. While the parliamentarians benefit from students' hard work and skills, students gain practical experience in public affairs and build networks with other public-spirited youth.