Friday, September 24, 2010

Hurricane Reconstruction in Haiti Encourages Youth Civic Participation

by Christina Malliet

In the wake of the devastating earthquake on January 12, the need for youth civic participation in Haiti is greater than ever. And as reconstruction is underway, Haitian youth have been eager to get involved. UNICEF is harnessing young people’s enthusiasm and providing them with opportunities to participate through its “Children and Youth Participation Movement for a Transformative Agenda for Children” program. The movement started recently in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, just in time for the upcoming elections for President, being held in November. The movement involves a series of debates, forums and conferences, allowing young people in Haiti to consider issues and draw leaders’ attention to topics that are important to them.

The most recent forum, on September 21, included 50 young participants. The Minister of Youth, Sports and Civic Actions also attended, hearing the young people speak about their main interest areas and desires; the over-exploitation of minerals, deforestation, erosion, employment generation. They also aimed to stress their presence during election season, so candidates know that youth voices must be heard and they must be involved in future policy-making.

This is a good example of action occurring all over the world to further engage young people in decision-making processes and in their communities’ development. With only one month left before IANYS 9th Global Conference on National Youth Service kicks off, this trend is particularly exciting for us, here at ICP! This conference, held from 25-27 October in Alexandria, Egypt, will help leaders create and/or expand programs engaging young people, such as these young Haitians, in community and youth development. It will bring together policy-makers, practicioners and stakeholders from every corner of the world, allowing them to exchange insight and resources for the development of effective youth civic engagement programs. For more information, visit the conference website.

Photo credit here.

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