CIVICUS Youth Assembly in Glasgow, Scotland

Article published on July 8, 2008
community published
Article published on July 8, 2008
The CIVICUS Youth Assembly took place in Glasgow, Scotland from June 16-18th, 2008. TakingITGlobal's Multilingual Programs Manager Chiara was there to take part in the three-day event on People, Power and Participation. Here are her thoughts on the experience: The value of civil society in the quest for social justice cannot be overestimated.
CIVICUS is an international alliance established in 1993 in order to nurture the growth and protection of global citizen action, especially in areas where participatory democracy and citizens' freedom of association are threatened. Every year, the Youth Assembly brings together hundreds of delegates from around the world to examine the many issues that affect the role and participation of young people in decision-making processes.

Civicus 1 This year there was a strong (Eastern) European, Latin American and African presence. The delegates met in Glasgow to explore the theme of “People, Participation and Power” in a space where they could develop and commit to action internationally. During the course of the event, the delegates and I had a chance to learn about some of the most pressing social justice issues around the world . We then focused on skill-building activities to turn our visions for positive change into action.

The Youth Assembly started with an introduction to the program as well as a speech by the former First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell, who talked about why it is important to play a role in making change for the better. He was also joined by Kumi Naidoo and Ingrid Srinath, who are the outgoing and incoming Secretaries General of CIVICUS, respectively. After their introduction, we were divided into groups and we moved to the various participation sessions scheduled for us.

There were a total of 4 participation sessions, and we each got a chance to experience various “tools” to explore the four main themes of the conference: health, equalities, climate change and poverty. The aim of these sessions was to explore the importance of participation within the themes of the events, but also to get an idea of how power structures can play a role in influencing the outcomes of our involvement.

The tools we used were: Open Space Technology, Power Analysis, Role Playing/ Improvisation and the Margolis Wheel (also known as “speed dating”.) The next day, we focused on how to best respond to the issues being explored during the Assembly in our respective commissions. In particular, we explored avenues where young people can take action, keeping in mind the points raised during the previous day. There were also invited guests who presented on the topic at hand, so after a Q&A period with them, we were encouraged to come up with a series of commitments to present at the CIVICUS World Assembly.

The BBC was there to run a live radio session of its World Have Your Say program. The delegates got a chance to decide the topic for the debate- there was a lot of choice, and we ultimately decided to go with the “are we over-educated?” topic. Others responded immediately by making an incredibly inspiring video on the First Steps that lead us into action (you can check it out here.) Throughout the event there was an incredible energy and being there was very inspiring and motivating. The delegates were a determined and optimistic group, and went home with an even stronger motivation to bring positive change in their community. Learning and communicating with these inspiring youth was a unique opportunity for me, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

During the next couple of days, we will be posting a series of short interviews with some of the delegates, so stay tuned for more updates!