On September 18th, World Youth Wave had a privilege to take part in the side-event on youth empowerment organised within the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) that is currently being held in Warsaw, Poland.
The event focused on exploring obstacles young people face in engaging with democratic institutions and sharing examples of effective practice to support youth political participation. Youth experts and practitioners from OSCE participating States spoke about their own experience and provided practical information on how to engage young people in dialogue and community-based activism.
Ms Mila Lukić, the project coordinator of the Human Rights Youth Forum, shared experience from this very event held in Tirana back in August this year. “When it comes to the core reasons behind the Forum, it all starts with a simple need of young people to speak up and voice their concerns and ideas”, she said, reminding that youth is nowadays involved in issue-based activism more than ever, therefore must be given opportunities to influence policies and decision-making in order to advocate positive change.
Gathering representative potential in the Forum resulted in creating a set of practical recommendations called the “Voice of Youth” that tackle the human rights status quo in the region. Ms Lukić stressed out that this document will be forwarded to relevant stakeholders in Serbia and Albania and used as an advocacy tool within policy-making processes.
Bearing in mind the high social distance between young peo ple in the region, Ms Lukić added “Challenging views and attitudes is always an obstacle when working with sensitive topics and young people from conflict-stricken areas. Nonetheless, the Forum provided a safe and enabling environment in which participants could communicate productively and openly, and come up with a common vision”. In the end, Ms Lukić highlighted that the Forum enhanced the participants’ ability to take individual follow-up activities further on within their local communities and thus contribute to the multiplying effect.
The side event was co-organized by the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the Permanent Missions of Spain and Switzerland to the OSCE and the Austrian OSCE Chairmanship.