Engaging ASEAN Youth in Gender Initiatives: Empowering Change-Makers to achieve gender equality
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Hanoi, Viet Nam — Today, youth representatives from ASEAN countries, together with 100 other young people from Vietnam, participated in the event “Gender Dialogues: Engaging ASEAN Youth in Gender Initiatives” at the Green One UN House in Hanoi. The event highlighted the potential for youth engagement to generate social change for gender equality and the empowerment of women at both regional and national levels.
The dialogue concluded a 5-day participatory “Training of Trainers: Change Makers - Youth Activists for Gender Equality” which took place from 6 to 10 October 2018. The core material used for the training was UN Women’s The Change Makers, a toolkit for young activists to end violence against women and girls. The training was jointly organized by the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) UN Women Viet Nam and the Viet Nam Volunteer Center (VVC), with the support of the Mission of Canada to ASEAN.
Mohd Faizul Ilham Ibrahim, one of two youth representatives from Brunei, said: “This is one of the most comprehensive trainings on gender equality I have ever participated in. It offered us practical experience on top of theory, giving the youth participants a broad understanding of gender issues and the challenges that hinder progression in gender equality. I will return to Brunei fully-equipped to share this knowledge with people around me and advocate for actions in my own community.”
The ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women (ASEAN RPA on EVAW) highlights the importance of youth engagement as a means of generating social change for gender equality and the empowerment for women at both regional and national levels. Echoing this spirit, the training aimed to engage youth at the regional level to contribute to, and lead, the efforts in addressing and taking action to alleviate gender inequality and gender based violence in ASEAN member countries.
In the “Gender Dialogues: Engaging ASEAN Youth in Gender Initiatives,”20 youth representatives from ASEAN countries (2 from each country) and more than 100 Vietnamese youth, together with international and local experts, participated in the dialogue on the challenges and solutions to the achievement of gender equality in ASEAN by 2030. Following the dialogue, the group of ASEAN Youth for Gender Equality released a joint statement in an effort to mobilize both individual and ASEAN-wide support for gender equality.
“We are happy that some youths participating in this dialogue have already identified themselves as change makers after the Change Makers training over the last few days” - said Elisa Fernandez, Head of Office UN Women Vietnam. “I encourage you to maintain these spirits beyond today and throughout your lives, and hope you are inspired to continue by targeting your peers in rural and urban settings, proposing campus safety measures to school authorities, and advocating for gender mainstreaming in school policies. We hope you engage with activities that promote sustainable development, and want to see some of you participating in cutting edge research that promotes substantive gender equality in the ASEAN community.
Don Tuan Phuong, Director of Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS) said: “We believe that youth is capable of driving change with their creativity and passion. Once connected, they can learn and share quickly, and they inspire each other and their respective communities in the pursuit of a mutual goal.”
Do Thi Kim Hoa, Director of the Viet Nam Volunteer Center said: “We are glad to see the recognition of the central role volunteers play, especially young volunteers, in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It’s great that young people from 10 ASEAN countries have gathered in Vietnam to promote gender equality initiatives in the region.”
The programme also provides small grants to support the youth to share the knowledge they have gained through the training with their peers and initiate campaigns or projects in their local communities. Following this training, at least 12 projects will be undertaken by youth in communities in ASEAN countries with financial and technical support from organizers to tackle the issue of gender inequality.
The dialogue is a foundation for creating and maintaining a network of Change Makers, youth activists for gender equality in the ASEAN region, and the beginning a collective awareness-raising campaign in the region which will promote gender equality and youth engagement in the issue.