–ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud
Last week, ICP Executive Director Susan Stroud journeyed to Pakistan to participate in a regional symposium and visit with various youth organizations in Islamabad and Lahore.
A 2008 study by the Brookings Institution revealed that there are nearly 94 million Pakistani’s under the age of 25, 36 million of whom are between the ages of 15-24. To some, this represents an almost unmanageable number of people to employ, feed and house. For ICP and our partners, it represents vast untapped potential.
While in Pakistan, Susan met with many groups to discuss the power of youth to promote social change, including students completing service-learning projects at several schools, members of the Pakistan-U.S Alumni Network Youth Group and the inspiring youth organization Bargad.
Bargad clearly demonstrates what is possible when youth come together. Founded by a group of college students in 1997, Bargad works to promote youth development and engagement in Pakistan, especially among women. The group has completed dozens of projects, and is currently working on empowering girls in Gujranwala, promoting democratic values in Lahore, improving waste management across the country and many other ventures.
Susan also spoke with the press, and had a guest spot on the popular Pakistani TV show , where she discussed methods to increase youth civic engagement.
In addition, Susan gave a keynote address at the Youth in Action for Global Change regional symposium, which was organized by the British Council, Pakistan. The goal of the symposium was to develop a workable strategy for promoting engagement and global citizenship in order to combat youth radicalization. Youth activists, policy makers, and government officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Afghanistan, Qatar, the United States and the UK were in attendance.
In her speech, Susan emphasized the importance of global citizenship and the tremendous impact young people can have on development. ”Harnessing the energy of young people to work with people of other nations will strengthen our ability to tackle global challenges and lead to a more secure world” Susan said. “Through global citizenship we can create better-educated citizens from many countries, greater opportunities for prosperity and a foundation for a more peaceful world”.
Susan mentioned several organizations that were working towards a more global citizenry, including well known organizations such as the Peace Corps, as well as smaller organizations such as School Girls Unite (which was one of 22 organizations highlighted in ICP’s Innovations in International Volunteering report produced for v in 2008). The young people in these groups, and the millions more like them, are demonstrating how powerful the forces of change can be when wielded in the hands of youth.
Young people across the globe, from Pakistan to Zambia, the UK to Chile, are connecting to wield this power. What are you doing? Let us know in the comments!