Youth voice matters for the democratic reforms in Ukraine, youth workers say

Nov 28, 2017

27 November, Kharkiv: Over 100 youth workers from all over Ukraine came together at the UNDP-supported First All-Ukrainian Youth Workers’ Forum to promote and acknowledge the effective forms of cooperation and networking among youth workers in Ukraine.

The Youth Worker programme was established by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine, the State Institute of Youth and Family Policy and UNDP in 2014 in order to develop capacities of the leaders and specialists of youth work in the framework of decentralisation reform for raising efficiency of the youth policy development and implementation at the local and regional levels.  

«In three years, the youth workers’ community has significantly grown to over 1100 competent and inspired youth workers with excellent practices of youth work in different areas all over the country, which is already more than the number of civil servants working on youth issues in Ukraine. We believe that the youth workers are our extended power on the ground, which help us to strengthen the national youth policy and ensure its effective implementation», said Oleksandr Yarema, Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports in Ukraine in his welcome remarks to the participants.

Young generation more and more interested in making positive changes at local and regional levels, as proven by the recent sociological survey on youth and decentralization – 2017. 37% of youth is ready to contribute actively to the development of their united territorial communities. At the same time, 35% of youth believes that local authorities do not take into account the opinion of the youth in the process of decision-making, related to the development of local communities. Considering, that the decentralisation offers numerous opportunities for the local communities to implement diverse initiatives in the fields of democracy and human rights, such a high number of motivated youth is a good indicator, and the challenges do not have to become obstacles. 

«Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals requires inclusion of youth into policy- and decision-making, hence, inclusive youth participation in democratic governance and economic empowerment of youth are among UNDP’s strategic priorities in Ukraine. We support the Youth Worker programme, work in partnership with community institutions, and support development of the youth innovations that address public issues and problems, which are many in Ukraine», said Van Nguyen, UNDP Deputy Country Director Ukraine a.i.

To tackle these challenges, the year 2017 saw many important developments in the work UNDP is supporting for the benefit of youth and youth organisations in Ukraine.

100 youth teams documented their best practices of youth work which are easy to replicate, and submitted them to the contest of the Ministry and UNDP. These practices of applying the local democracy tools in the communities, implementing the youth projects and initiatives for promoting human rights, environmental sustainability, volunteering etc. will be useful for the peers from other regions.

Civic education for youth made an essential progress, as we defined the strategic vision of the civic education for youth workers and developed thematic specialised training modules on participatory democracy, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination, and critical thinking and media literacy. The course will be rolled out in 2018 to enhance the level of youth participation in the communities.

To translate the knowledge, skills and creativity young people have into innovations for democracy and human rights, we held an incredible Youth Innovation Challenge U-Inn during which youth participated in the training camp, visited strong and experienced CSOs in the regions working on democratization and human rights to learn from their experiences, and developed 95 innovative ideas to tackle challenges in their communities. Just 2 days ago, the jury selected 6 winners, which will implement their innovations over the next 3 months in their communities.

These are the project ideas on inclusive e-democracy to check to which extent the governance web-sites are friendly towards people with disabilities; interaction without boundaries - the social approach of trainings and social activities for inclusive groups of youth to build tolerance, non-discrimination and social cohesion; a social enterprise co-working in a new way – creating the social youth hub in the village of Domanivka for the whole community; a mobile app Open Odesa – a mobile app, which will collect information from open sources about the decisions made by Odesa city council and propose analytics on potential corruption risks; and two innovations for Donbas.

During the Forum, the youth workers discussed the forms of cooperation and networking among youth workers, interacted with the authors of the best practices of youth work in Ukraine, learned from the European youth work experience, brainstormed on the strategic priorities of civic education for young people in Ukraine, discussed the "Roadmap for reform of the youth policy in Ukraine", and defined their vision of the future of the "Youth Worker" Programme.

The First All-Ukrainian Youth Workers’ Forum is organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine jointly with the United Nations Development Programme in Ukraine, the State Institute for Family and Youth Policy and the Department for Youth and Sports of the Kharkiv Regional State Administration.

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