The Council of Europe is encouraging youth NGOs to be more active in democratic processes.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 19/08/13
More than half of Kosovo's population is younger than 25. [AFP]
Organisations throughout the region are looking for more opportunities to empower young people and give them representation on key decision-making institutions.
The NGOs hope to strengthen the impact of youth in social and economic development by giving them a voice and means to actively participate in the development of new policies.
“All activities that are being made for the youth sector are being made by bodies in which the youth NGOs and the governments are represented on equal footing," said Can Fisek, a spokesperson for the Council of Europe covering Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Poland, Slovakia, Macedonia and Turkey.
"That is really the basis and the idea is to encourage youth NGOs to be active in this pluralistic participation democracy and also to give them tools to be active,” Fisek told SETimes.
Different world organisations have been trying to help the youth NGOs organise better to be able to express their concerns and objectives and make their voices heard. The international organisation World Vision started a two-year youth project this year, funded by the European Union and Austrian Development Co-operation, to create youth councils to train youth in social media, project management and communication processes.
"By (the end of the project) we aim to have at least 10 local youth action councils fully established, well-organised and highly motivated to continue advocating for their rights to local government, deeply engaged in developing good inter-communal relationships, and [with] an open culture of debate and critical thinking among their peers and society," Rein Dekker, national director of World Vision in Albania and Kosovo, said in Pristina in March.
The project is intended to help youth "raise their voices and propose ideas for a civilised integration of their country into the European Union," Dekker said.
The project is critical for countries such as Kosovo, where half of its population is younger than 25.
"There are many young people who have executive positions in the administration. They are part of the political staffs in the government and they are also part of various boards. However, the even greater involvement of young people in decision-making is an on-going process," Shkelzen Dragaj, a spokesperson for the Kosovo Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports told SETimes.
Abdullah Hasani, president of the Council of the European Youth of Kosovo, said that changes in the society and the dynamic current developments require the energy and the will of young people in the decision-making process.
"But unfortunately, the young people in the country face major problems, such as unemployment and lack of hearing their voice as decision-makers and this is evidenced by the low representation of the young people in important decision-making and state institutions," Hasani told SETimes.
Jurgena Hajdaraj, youth manager for World Vision in Albania and Kosovo, told SETimes that many young people do not feel represented in institutions.
"Even in the cases when they are present in meetings with the government authorities, they think that their opinions are rarely reflected in the final product," Hajdaraj told SETimes.
In Montenegro, lawmakers are looking for ways to bring more young people into the decision-making process, said Dijana Uljarevic, programme manager for Forum MNE, an NGO that deals with youth and their rights.
"Evaluation of quality is crucial. Authorities need to recognize talented young people and to offer them a quality program to work and create," Uljarevic told SETimes.
Ivana Davidovska, president of the National Youth Council of Macedonia, shares the same opinion.
“One of our goals is to establish a structured dialogue with institutions to provide meaningful participation of the youth in decision-making processes,” Davidovska told SETimes.
Correspondents Drazen Remikovic in Sarajevo and Marina Stojanovska in Skopje contributed to this report.
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