What is the role of youth movements after the Arab Spring?
This was the question posed by the high-level panel organized during the International Co-ordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYO) Networking Day taking place in Cairo, Egypt on 8th September. Mr. Mohamed Refay, Vice-Minister of Youth attended the meeting and stressed the importance of cooperation and youth development. And regional representatives of WOSM and WSCF, officially opened the Networking Day, the aim of which was to bring together youth organizations working globally, regionally and locally, institutional partners, governmental representatives and other stakeholders so they could get to know and understand the challenges young people are facing in the Arab Region, share and learn from each other’s experiences and build and strengthen relationships at all levels.
Asmaa Mahfouz, one of the five youth activists which called on people to gather in Tahir Square on 25th January 2011, joined representatives from the World Bank, UNFPA, the League of Arab States, UN Women and the UN Millennium Campaign to discuss the situation of young people in the region after the Arab Spring, and the current initiatives being developed by the different agencies in response. Linking the education system more closely with the employment market, the sharp rise in HIV/AIDS, human rights, gender-based violence were some of the issues raised during the panel discussion and participants highlighted the need for capacity building, youth-focused services and the development of strong networks to address the challenges faced by young people in the region. “Youth are the present, not only the future” as one of the panelists reminded the audience, urging the participants to use the momentum of the Arab Spring to ensure they are also involved in the decisions made about them.
In the afternoon during a World Café, hosted by the Global Young Greens, the participants had an opportunity to learn about the different organizations present, discuss with each other the points which had been raised during the morning, exchange experiences and develop relationships which will hopefully lead to more closer co-operation in the future. In the closing session the participants were urged to follow up on the ideas which had been suggested during the day. They were reminded of the role of youth organizations to support young people so their voices can be heard, and they should continue to work together and take the spirit of the networking day into their own communities. Combining our strengths, we can achieve so much more.
The ICMYO participating organizations had also a chance to showcase their work and provide more information about their organizations at the Marketplace.
UNFPA invited ICMYO 2012 organisations and their representatives who were present for the 3-day coordination meeting for a social evening over dinner to interact with their Y-Peer youth network members and UNFPA local staff.