Center for Intercultural Dialogue, North Macedonia;
Many young people are increasingly disengaged from both community programs and other types of civic and political participation in different parts of Europe. Young people often lack the necessary tools and capacities to influence public debate. Furthermore, creating environment where young people feel valued and motivated to contribute to community development and decision-making processes aligned to their personal goals remains a challenge for many youth organizations in Europe.
Disappointment with mainstream politics is heavily present among the young people in the participating countries of this Strategic Partnership. The failure of national governments to address effectively many of the challenges young people are facing, has led to widespread discontent among youth. Young people are not adequately represented within formal political structures, policy-making and decision-making processes as evidenced by the low rates of parliamentary involvement, political party participation and electoral activity among them.
The number of young skeptics in relation to politics is particularly significant in Slovakia. According to Youth Report compiled by IUVENTA – The Slovak Youth Institute, in average 80% of young people aged between 15-24 years do not trust the government and the parliament. 82% to 72% of respondents think that politicians do not really care about them. The majority of young people are convinced that “young people don’t have the power to significantly influence political decisions”.
In North Macedonia, according to the survey of Westminster Foundation for Democracy, only 8% of young people have taken steps to solve a particular societal problem and 80% of young people state that the authorities do not care about them at all or only partially care about them and their needs and problems. Furthermore, only 3% of young people are fully satisfied with their place in society.
The situation is a bit different in Armenia, where a revolution began with protests in 2018. The heavy participation of young Armenians was one of the most striking features of the protest movement, which as a result provided Armenia a peaceful transition to democracy from semi-authoritarian regime. Participation of young people in building democratic institutions in Armenia is of a vital importance. However, participation of young people especially in rural and remote areas, particularly among women remains low and currently there is a fertile ground to set up different youth participation schemes and initiatives.
Youth organizations, youth councils and schools in Slovakia, North Macedonia and Armenia are not being considered as platforms for discussions on social or political issues. Young people do not share the belief that these organizations can have an influence on youth policies making. The involvement in student councils, parliaments or municipal youth councils and their initiatives is not attractive among youth.
Being actively involved in civic and political actions and feeling concerned about youth disengagement in our countries, we have come together to develop this Strategic Partnership project – “Up to You(th)!”. This is a Partnership between 3 youth organizations, based in different regions of Europe that are civically and politically active on local, national and European levels. The project aims at promoting youth engagement and active citizenship through exchange of best practices and equipping youth workers and educators with capacity, tools and methods to work effectively with individual youngsters and groups of young people not active on a local level.
The Strategic Partnership pursues the following goals:
A. Building capacities of 15 youth workers, project managers and educators to effectively outreach and engage individual youngsters and groups of young people not active on local level in partner countries;
B. Jointly exploring new forms of youth engagement and active citizenship, including digital participation;
C. Equipping youth workers and youth organizations with capacity, tools and methods to deliver high quality workshops on youth participation and active citizenship;
D. Identifying main obstacles for youth participation through a Survey on “Youth participation in community life” among young people;
E. Exchanging methods, training materials and best practices on youth participation and civic engagement between partners;
F. Supporting youth workers and trainers to incorporate values and methodologies of youth participation and active citizenship in the work of their organizations.
The Consortium believes that the project should be implemented transnationally as all the members of the Consortium are part of an international network that tries to offer transnational solutions to local challenges. We believe that the results of the project cannot be achieved through national or local funding as the achievement of the project goals can be done only by ensuring active involvement of each partner.