If we want to influence, we need to advocate!
It can be difficult sometimes for youth to be taken seriously in public debates when they are not seen as full adults and when their voices are not deemed valuable. When youth are left out of important discussions that affect their lives and future, it becomes vital to initiate advocacy activities that make their voices heard and get their messages across to decision-makers.
On May, 19, 2016, in Gaza, Palestine, 30 representatives of youth organizations participated in a NET-MED Youth training on Campaign Management and Advocacy. The activity aimed to strengthen youth advocacy so as to facilitate their participation in decision-making. The training sessions focused on key elements of any advocacy campaign: the methods, the strategies and the good practices.
Capacity development of youth is a key part of NET-MED Youth actions. The reasoning behind is that when youth improve their abilities to better voice out and advocate for their interests and rights in national dialogues, it is easier for them to take action and be heard.
"Advocacy campaigns send policy-makers the right message in the most effective way," said Walaa Modokh, a member of NET-MED Youth member representing the Social Developmental Forum (SDF) in Gaza.
And that much is right.
Following the training session, the participants felt better equipped to plan an effective advocacy campaign and ensure that youth concerns are taken seriously in national policy and planning processes.
“The training sessions provided youth with the skills necessary to manage a successful advocacy campaign that results in positive change to policies and practices at the local, national or international level," said Mr. Bilal Hamaydah, National Program Officer at the Education Unit of the UNESCO Gaza antenna office. He added that youth-centered advocacy can promote youth as part of the solution, not just as the victims.
Activities within NET-MED Youth focus on the importance of strengthening the capacities of youth and youth organizations to promote their active engagement and inclusion in national dialogues. It is through trainings like this one in Palestine that youth can gain the skills to ensure that youth issues are addressed not only in youth policies, but also in media, employment and education.
"Advocacy campaigns for youth issues strengthen the role of youth organizations in decision-making, and expand youth awareness of their rights and responsibilities as citizens," said Hana Borbara, another member of NET-MED Youth and member of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) in Gaza.
More capacity-buidling workshops and trainings are taking place throughout 2016 for all members of NET-MED Youth so they gain confidence and leadership skills, and so they are better prepared to engage in inter-generational dialogue and to orient their careers direction and social consciousness.
Activities building skills among youth organizations and young journalists; to enhance youth representation in media and promote freedom of expression, media and information literacy and youth-generated media content.
Activities joining youth organizations, employment experts and different national stakeholders to engage in dialogue and work together on unemployment solutions and skills needs.
Activities empowering youth to participate in the communal and national development, revision and implementation of national youth strategies and public policies.