• “Open Up The Space”: A call for inclusivity by CIVICUS Youth

    Header image Open Up The Space by daisuke 1230 CC BY SAThe world is filled with injustice, hate speech, violence and oppression. Variant forms of power are exercised to police bodies, groups and human rights work in the interests of privilege. This should not reflect within spaces of advocacy and accountability.

    Civil society should understand the importance of sharing power and enabling inclusion in a meaningful and uplifting manner. We as young people of diversity acknowledge and recognise the importance of having voices of vulnerability at the forefront of change. We need to redefine how we provide solutions and build togetherness. Everyone's area of influence should consider issues of displacement, migration, decolonisation, disability, albinism, indigenous origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, sex characteristics and mental wellbeing.

    Young people are present and ready to steer the mantle of challenging the complex systems and ideologies that impede our progress. We are willing and able to ensure no one is left behind.

    At the Youth Assembly of International Civil Society Week 2019, many topics about youth empowerment were discussed among delegates. We were particularly interested in collaborating to identify ways to bring forward the narratives and concerns as young people of diverse identities. We hence call upon civil society organizations, donor and funding agencies, youth-led and youth-serving organizations and especially, CIVICUS member organizations to:

    1) Continue engaging young people and enhancing civil society organizing without discrimination of age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, religious belief, political affiliation and any other social, economic, cultural or political identity.

    2) Target the most vulnerable groups, including youth and LGBTIQ, to ensure equity and not just equality in achieving your programming.

    3) Provide resource for youth-led marginalized organizations at country level without pre-empting and restricting

    4) Open up the space, in anyway you can,by listening, linking and learning to/with/about the most marginalised in society.

    5) Broaden your perspective in sharing these elite/exclusive spaces because the voices that are not in the room is likely to be most affected

    Sign the call by filling in this form.


    This call was endorsed by the following youth activists at the Youth Assembly:

    Justin Francis Bionat - Youth Voices Count, Philippines

    Amanda Segnini - Engajamundo

    Dariele Santos - Brazil

    Nini Oñate - DAKILA, Philippines

    Marijoy Liwag - Commission on Human Rights PH

    Wilson Villones - ANSA East Asia and the Pacific, Philippines

    Peng - China

    Natasha - India

    Malebo- South Africa

    Nikhil Taneja - India

    Oliver Andreevski - CYA Krik, North Macedonia

    Jelena Mitrovic, Serbia, Youth Worker, Board member of National Youth Council of Serbia

    Fouzi Mathey, France, Yes! For humanity

    Alan Jarandilla Nuñez, IYAFP

    Wiem Chamsi, Tunisia YAT CIVICUS

    Cynthia Muhonja, Kenya Life Lifters

    Vandita Morarka, One Future Collective

    Ximena Arrieta, Mexico

    Joseph Kagabo, Rwanda

    Dumiso Gatsha, Success Capital NGO, Botswana

    Dessy - Indonesia

    Tracey Martin - Plan International, United Kingdom

    Ripley Wang - Beijing Gender

    Christine - Jordan

    Sohou Enagnon Brice, Bénin

    Karin Watson, Chile

    Kalisito Biaukula , Fiji

    Abdul Mufeez Shared, Fiji

    Jasmina Golubovska, Republic of North Macedonia


    Photo by daisuke1230 (CC-BY-SA)


  • Building a diverse global team of activist for social transformation: Welcoming the CIVICUS Youth Action Team 2021-22

    We at CIVICUS Youth are very thankful to the Youth Action Team (YAT) 2019-2020, a group of accomplished and inspiring young leaders from all over the world who work together for a year and a half to instill a more youth-friendly vision within CIVICUS and act as an inspiration for other organisations across the world to have youth at the center and make decisions that do not leave behind the power of 1.8 billion, the largest youth generation that the world has ever seen.

    CIVICUS YAT 2021 22 4The YAT was actively engaged in the process of design, selection and identification of the next generation of this team. Each one became an ambassador in their own region to disseminate the call for applications with local activists, thus helping us to have a presence in communities that otherwise we would have missed. Then, they provided useful ideas to better assess  applications, like having less but more provocative questions that got to the core of the activism of the applicants. Finally, they help to assess the profiles of the incoming YAT and choose the most promising profiles to create a team that is complementary and can harness diversity as a key asset to foster innovation and a global community ready to tackle local challenges.

    The key criteria used included: their experience as an activist and part of a larger youth-led organisation, their passion, commitment and resourcefulness; having a good understanding of CIVICUS Youth; skills and resources that can nurture and be nurtured by a global community of activists and; have an endorsement of an organisation/movement/collective that can confidently assess their leadership skills, proactiveness and capacity for mobilisation for social causes. Through these elements, it was easier to identify holistic profiles that would highly benefit from being part of a larger network with global reach and influence.

    After this careful selection process, the new YAT comprises a gender-balanced group with 7 females and 6 males, representing the Americas and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Europe and Middle East and North Africa. It has activists as young as 18 years old and up to 30 years old, with experience ranging from global organisations like UNICEF, One Young World, and Amnesty International, to regional networks like the Afrika Youth Movement and local groups such as Ayudando a Honduras or One Future Collective. A mix of storytellers, grassroots activists, international advocates, social entrepreneurs, organisers, mobilisers and researchers, the team has an ample skill set to approach local challenges with a global perspective. The YAT 2021-22 includes an LGBTI rights activist and a champion for the inclusion of young people living with disabilities. While individually, each one has their own niche area of focus, collectively they can instill social change. However, it is not only about young people. Kejal Slava from India, the convener of the Blue Ribbon Movement – a group aiming to redefine leadership structure and use nonviolent practices – says that a world with meaningful youth engagement would be painted with colours of inter-generational wisdom, that creates space for everyone to learn and creatively act together. Yi Kang Choo, a law student of human rights from Malaysia adds that it is a world where national leaders and young people lead together, working as partners with equal relevance and value.

    It has been a short while of getting to know each other so far and they have set the courageous vision of creating a powerful ecosystem of transformation, where the youth is at the center and challenges the status quo through togetherness and diversity.This might be the start of a shift that expands throughout the CIVICUS alliance and beyond.


  • Case Study on the Power of Radical Collaboration: People Before Projects

    Conversation between Enhle Khumalo, CIVICUS Youth and Abigail Freeman, Alliance for Gender Justice Liberia in August 2020. 

    Transforming information into impactful formats 

    1. Who is Abigail?

    I am a 22-year-old social justice activist and founder of the Alliance for Gender Justice and Human Rights- a movement formed on the basis of advocating for women’s rights, promoting gender equality, and amplifying the voices of women and youth in  Liberia. I am also a Youth Action Lab participant.

    2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the communities you work with?

    We had just launched our movement prior to the pandemic. However, due to the preventing measures to spread the COVID-19 pandemic we could not go on with our planned activities which included the construction of a physical space for young women and victims of sexual violence to participate safely in the campaign for sexual violence prevention and gender justice. So in the spirit of people before projects, we decided to adapt our plans to fit in with the needs of people during the COVID-19 state of emergency in Liberia that started in March.

    3. How were you able to adapt your plans to accommodate the changing environment? 

    My team and I wanted to adapt our plans to address people's needs and not our assumptions of what they needed. So, my team and I decided to see how we can work with communities and  to learn how to better address this issue and direct our efforts to protect women and children.

    4. What was a major take-away from the work you were able to produce using this approach?

    Gender issues are extremely sensitive in Ganta, Liberia. For instance, during our time working there with fellow grassroots activists, we discovered a case where four rapists had familial ties to the judge that ordered their medical release due to COVID-19. First, I was able to reach out to people working on those issues in the town. Working together, we built a campaign to raise awareness about this and the community demonstrated an overwhelming amount of support by joining us in protests demonstrations and press conferences calling for the immediate arrest of the rapists and along the way we gained traction and got legal support from the Liberia Justice Association. This strategic alliance assisted our advocacy efforts by introducing a legal entity, which we are not qualified as. Now more people know our movement and we are recognized and referred to as a group that stands up for gender justice in a context where this is a sensitive topic. Thanks to this we are reaching more people than if we had stayed with the original project plan.

    5. What would you say to organisations/donors who are looking to support youth activists like yourself in these challenging times and post-Covid?

    Abigail interview 2Many women and children living in rural communities are vulnerable to violence. Creating a space that will allow women, girls and children to acquire education and skills training will be a radical approach in the fight against GBV. At the SheLeads Academy, women, children and teenage mothers will be given an opportunity to build their capacity through skills training programs, counseling and mentorship,health care and leadership development. This will serve as a means for reducing poverty and domestic violence. 

    Funding and logistical assistance is also important. It will help advocacy organisations to expand their networks and support the work we are doing in our communities.

    6. Any advice for other youth activists facing similar challenges?

    Young people have the power to change the world and as such, it is time we build a united front by bringing young people from diverse backgrounds to elevate our advocacy.

    Gender Justice, safety for women and children, women empowerment and girls education is everyone’s responsibility. 

    Collaboration is key. We managed to cut across many sectors and have had many people support the work we are doing.  Value the power of collaboration., Young people can cut through the noise and advocate for a fair and just society when they organise with and through their community.


  • Construyendo un equipo global diverso de activistas para la transformación social: Dando la bienvenida al Equipo de Acción Juvenil CIVICUS 2021-22

    Nosotros, en CIVICUS Youth, estamos muy agradecidos con el Equipo de Acción Juvenil (YAT) 2019-2020, un grupo de jóvenes líderes consumados e inspiradores de todo el mundo que trabajaron juntos durante un año y medio para inculcar una visión más amigable con los jóvenes dentro de CIVICUS y actuar como una inspiración para otras organizaciones en todo el mundo para tener a los jóvenes en el centro y tomar decisiones que no dejen atrás el poder de 1.800 millones, la generación de jóvenes más grande que el mundo ha visto.

    CIVICUS YAT 2021 22 SpanishEl YAT participó activamente en el proceso de diseño, selección e identificación de la próxima generación de este equipo. Cada uno de ellos se convirtió en embajador en su propia región para difundir la convocatoria con los activistas locales, ayudándonos así a tener una presencia en las comunidades que de otro modo habríamos pasado por alto. Luego, aportaron ideas útiles para evaluar mejor una solicitud, como tener menos preguntas pero más provocativas que llegaran al núcleo del activismo de los solicitantes. Por último, ayudaron a evaluar el perfil de la próxima generación del YAT y a elegir los perfiles más prometedores para crear un equipo que se complemente y pueda aprovechar la diversidad como un activo clave para fomentar la innovación y una comunidad global preparada para afrontar los retos locales.

    Los criterios clave para poder identificarlos fueron: su experiencia como activistas que forman parte de una organización más amplia liderada por jóvenes, mostrando pasión, compromiso e ingenio; tener un buen conocimiento del área juvenil de CIVICUS y habilidades y recursos que puedan nutrir y ser nutridos por una comunidad global de activistas y; tener un respaldo de una organización/movimiento/colectivo que pueda evaluar con confianza sus habilidades de liderazgo, proactividad y capacidad de movilización para causas sociales. A través de estos tres elementos, fue más fácil identificar perfiles holísticos que se beneficiarían enormemente de formar parte de una red más amplia con alcance e influencia global.

    Tras este cuidadoso proceso de selección, el equipo está formado por un grupo equilibrado en cuanto a género, con 7 mujeres y 6 hombres, que representan a América y el Caribe, África Subsahariana, Asia, Europa y Oriente Medio y Norte de África. Cuenta con activistas de hasta 19 años y hasta 30 años, con experiencia que va desde organizaciones globales como UNICEF, One Young World y Amnistía Internacional, hasta redes regionales como el Movimiento Juvenil Afrika y grupos locales como Ayudando a Honduras o One Future Collective. Una mezcla de narradores de historias, activistas de base, defensores de derechos humanos internacionales, emprendedores sociales, organizadores, movilizadores e investigadores, el equipo tiene un amplio conjunto de habilidades para abordar los desafíos locales con una perspectiva global. El YAT 2021-22 incluye un activista promotor de los derechos LGBTI y otro comprometido con la inclusión de los jóvenes que viven con discapacidades. Aunque individualmente cada uno de ellos tiene su propio nicho de atención, colectivamente pueden infundir el cambio social. Pero no se trata sólo de los jóvenes. Kejal Slava, de la India, convocante del Blue Ribbon Movement -un grupo que pretende redefinir la estructura de liderazgo y utilizar prácticas no violentas- dice que un mundo con un compromiso juvenil significativo estaría pintado con los colores de la sabiduría intergeneracional, que crea un espacio para que todos aprendan y actúen juntos de forma creativa. Yi Kang Choo, joven de Malasia, estudiante de jurisprudencia en el área de derechos humanos, añade que se trata de un mundo en el que los líderes nacionales y los jóvenes lideran juntos, trabajando como socios con igual relevancia y valor.

    Llevan poco tiempo conociéndose y sin embargo, ya han establecido la valiente visión de crear un poderoso ecosistema de transformación, en el que la juventud esté en el centro y desafíe el statu quo a través de la unión y la diversidad. Esto podría ser el comienzo de un cambio que se extienda a CIVICUS y más allá.

    En CIVICUS Youth estamos muy agradecidos con el Equipo de Acción Juvenil (YAT) 2019-2020, un grupo de jóvenes líderes consumados e inspiradores de todo el mundo que trabajaron juntos durante un año y medio para inculcar una visión más amigable con los jóvenes dentro de CIVICUS y actuar como inspiración para que otras organizaciones de todo el mundo tengan a los jóvenes en el centro y tomen decisiones que no dejen atrás el poder de 1.800 millones, la mayor generación de jóvenes que el mundo haya visto jamás.

    El YAT participó activamente en el proceso de diseño, selección e identificación de la próxima generación de este equipo. Cada uno de ellos se convirtió en embajador en su propia región para difundir la convocatoria con los activistas locales, ayudándonos así a tener una presencia en las comunidades que de otro modo habríamos pasado por alto. Luego, aportaron ideas útiles para evaluar mejor las solicitudes, como tener menos preguntas, pero más provocativas, que llegaran al núcleo del activismo de los solicitantes. Por último, ayudaron a evaluar los perfiles del YAT entrante y a elegir los más prometedores para crear un equipo que sea complementario y pueda aprovechar la diversidad como un activo clave para fomentar la innovación y una comunidad global preparada para afrontar los retos locales.

    Los criterios clave utilizados fueron: su experiencia como activista y parte de una organización más amplia dirigida por jóvenes, su pasión, compromiso e ingenio; tener un buen conocimiento de CIVICUS Youth; habilidades y recursos que puedan nutrir y ser nutridos por una comunidad global de activistas y; tener un respaldo de una organización/movimiento/colectivo que pueda evaluar con confianza sus habilidades de liderazgo, proactividad y capacidad de movilización para causas sociales. A través de estos elementos, fue más fácil identificar perfiles holísticos que se beneficiarían enormemente de formar parte de una red más amplia con alcance e influencia global.

    Tras este cuidadoso proceso de selección, el nuevo YAT está formado por un grupo equilibrado en cuanto a género, con 7 mujeres y 6 hombres, que representan a América y el Caribe, África Subsahariana, Asia, Europa y Oriente Medio y el Norte de África. Cuenta con activistas de hasta 18 años y de hasta 30 años, con experiencia que va desde organizaciones globales como UNICEF, One Young World y Amnistía Internacional, hasta redes regionales como el Movimiento Juvenil Afrika y grupos locales como Ayudando a Honduras o One Future Collective. Una mezcla de narradores, activistas de base, defensores internacionales, emprendedores sociales, organizadores, movilizadores e investigadores, el equipo tiene un amplio conjunto de habilidades para abordar los desafíos locales con una perspectiva global. El YAT 2021-22 incluye a un activista de los derechos LGBTI y a un defensor de la inclusión de los jóvenes que viven con discapacidades. Aunque individualmente, cada uno tiene su propio nicho de atención, colectivamente pueden infundir el cambio social. Sin embargo, no se trata sólo de jóvenes. Kejal Slava, de la India, coordinadora del Blue Ribbon Movement -un grupo que pretende redefinir la estructura de liderazgo y utilizar prácticas no violentas- dice que un mundo con un compromiso juvenil significativo estaría pintado con los colores de la sabiduría intergeneracional, que crea un espacio para que todos aprendan y actúen juntos de forma creativa. Yi Kang Choo, estudiante de jurisprudencia de los derechos humanos de Malasia, añade que se trata de un mundo en el que los líderes nacionales y los jóvenes lideran juntos, trabajando como socios con igual relevancia y valor.

    Llevan poco tiempo conociéndose y han establecido la valiente visión de crear un poderoso ecosistema de transformación, en el que la juventud esté en el centro y desafíe el statu quo a través de la unión y la diversidad.Este podría ser el comienzo de un cambio que se extienda por toda la alianza CIVICUS y más allá.


  • Cuatro prácticas para fortalecer el activismo juvenil

    Reflexiones 2021 por Elisa Novoa, Enhle Khumalo y Leonardo Párraga

    Gracias a la riqueza y el poder existente en las comunidades de CIVICUS Youth, el equipo de coordinación de CIVICUS Youth aprendió y consolidó sus prácticas en 2021 sobre:

    1. Cómo llevar a cabo un proceso de selección realmente inclusivo, gracias a un cambio en la toma de decisiones
    2. Cómo integrar nuevos miembros y transmitir la información de manera eficaz
    3. Cómo crear oportunidades y espacios para la creación de redes y la visibilidad
    4. Cómo crear una cultura de rendición de cuentas y de solidaridad entre paresCómo crear una cultura de rendición de cuentas y de solidaridad entre pares

    A continuación compartimos una serie de aprendizajes y de reflexiones con las que el equipo CIVICUS Youth se ha encontrado mientras trabajaba con sus diferentes comunidades de jóvenes en 2021. Con ello, pretendemos ilustrar los retos y las oportunidades de implicar adecuadamente a los jóvenes en la promoción de unos espacios cívicos más sólidos.


    El segundo año de pandemia de COVID-19 dejó muchas lecciones para los profesionales de la sociedad civil que trabajan en la promoción de una cultura de colaboración y solidaridad entre personas y grupos con ideas afines. El equipo de coordinación de CIVICUS Youth es uno de esos grupos de profesionales que pretende fortalecer la participación cívica de los jóvenes mediante enfoques innovadores, dinámicos y de apoyo entre pares. Las siguientes reflexiones incluyen experiencias sobre la creación de una cultura de rendición de cuentas, inclusión y resiliencia con una membresía de más de 3 400 jóvenes actores de la sociedad civil procedentes de 150 países. Las comunidades de CIVICUS Youth están situadas en diferentes zonas horarias, trabajan en temas muy variados y sus necesidades y expectativas son también muy diversas, lo que añade una mayor complejidad a nuestras prácticas de participación juvenil.

    Las dos comunidades principales de CIVICUS Youth son el Equipo de Acción Juvenil (YAT) y el Laboratorio de Acción Juvenil (YAL). El YAT actúa como un órgano de dirección que establece la agenda para los miembros de CIVICUS Youth e interactúa con el Secretariado y la Junta Directiva de CIVICUS, promoviendo una participación real de los jóvenes en la alianza. El segundo, el Laboratorio de Acción Juvenil (YAL, por sus siglas en inglés), funciona para poner a prueba modelos y enfoques que permitan mejorar la implicación y el apoyo a los jóvenes activistas y a los colectivos juveniles o a los movimientos de organizaciones no juveniles. El YAL ofrece recursos financieros y en especie para que su activismo sea más eficaz, resiliente y sostenible. En 2022, se pondrá en marcha una nueva comunidad de Jóvenes Embajadores que llevará todos estos aprendizajes del poder juvenil a las redes nacionales de jóvenes.


    En el primer trimestre del año, empezamos a seleccionarlas promociones de 2021 del YAT y del YAL con un mes de diferencia y con dos objetivos y públicos diferentes. Un grupo está formado por jóvenes activistas pertenecientes a redes juveniles nacionales o regionales, en su mayoría ya consolidadas o registradas (Equipo de Acción Juvenil). El segundo lo integran destacados y valientes activistas, pertenecientes a asociaciones y colectivos sin registro, o a movimientos que aún no han recibido fondos y nunca han participado antes en un foro internacional.

    Durante el segundo trimestre, continuamos con la incorporación de los jóvenes seleccionados (11 del YAL y 13 del YAT). Debido a las restricciones de viaje, estos procesos se llevaron a cabo de manera virtual, utilizando interpretación simultánea y plataformas de comunicación como Zoom, correo electrónico, WhatsApp y Google Drive.

    En el tercer trimestre, nos centramos en las oportunidades de creación de redes entre los grupos y actores externos, para aumentar sus redes y su visibilidad. Para ello, se utilizaron diferentes formatos de eventos virtuales y dinámicas adaptadas a los objetivos específicos de cada reunión y asistentes.

    En el cuarto trimestre, comprobamos los resultados de los esfuerzos realizados en materia de creación de confianza y comunidada través de la evaluación del grupo y las sesiones de control. Los activistas se mostraron muy transparentes en cuanto a sus progresos, desafíos y disponibilidad para continuar con los equipos, y vimos expresiones de solidaridad de equipo y apoyo entre pares sin que el equipo de coordinación CIVICUS Youth interviniera.

    Esperamos que disfruten con la lectura de nuestras experiencias, que no habrían sido posibles sin todos vosotros: miembros, socios y amigos de los grupos y organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro que luchan por la justicia. El 2022 será un año en el que mostraremos la inspiradora labor, los logros y las luchas a las que se enfrentaron los miembros del Laboratorio de Acción Juvenil en 2021. Esperamos contar con vosotros y tener la oportunidad de conocer a estos miembros o conectar con ellos de nuevo.


  • European Youth Event 2018: from reflection to action

    By Elena Ceban, Center for Intercultural Dialogue

    European Youth EventImagine a space where over 8000 young people would come together to discuss, debate, share their opinions on political, social and cultural issues and have a dialogue with policy makers on how the life of young people can be improved. This space is the European Youth Event, a festival held every two years that celebrates youth participation in one of the most beautiful ways possible. It brings together youth from all over Europe and beyond for a 2-day marathon of discussions, sessions, workshops, musical/theatre/circus performances, rap battles, games and simulations, all with the purpose of bridging the gap between youth and policy-makers, and collecting fresh and innovative ideas on how to improve the life of Europeans in all aspects, whether economic, social and labor-related, environmental protection or political participation. The event is held inside and next to the European Parliament, which means that for 2 days the whole space around the European Parliament turns into a vibrant hub of energy, laughter, good vibes, music and positivity.

    This year´s edition of the EYE revolved around the motto: "The plan is to fan this spark into a flame" (Hamilton, My Shot), and covered the following topics: keeping up with the digital revolution, calling for a fair share, working out for a stronger Europe, staying alive in turbulent times and protecting our planet.

    It was amazing that so many young people could benefit from the opportunity of sharing the same space with decision-makers and learning more about how their ideas can shape the future of Europe. What was even more incredible was that the programme was shaped by the young people themselves! In a complex procedure that starts way before the event, youth organisations and youth groups are invited to apply with an idea for a workshop or activity that covers one of the topics mentioned above. This feature creates an amazing diversity of methodologies used for the proposed activities, and the participants get the chance to meet and learn about the work of multiple national and international youth organisations from Europe.


  • Four Practices to Strengthen Youth Activism

    2021 Reflections By Elisa Novoa, Enhle Khumalo and Leonardo Párraga  

    Thanks to the richness and power that the CIVICUS Youth communities hold, the CIVICUS Youth coordination team learned andbuilt up our practices in 2021 around: 

    1. How to run a genuinely inclusive recruitment process by shifting the decision-making power 
    2. How to bring onboard new members and transfer information in an effective way 
    3. How to create opportunities and spaces for networking and visibility 
    4. How to create a culture of peer accountability and solidarity

    The following series shares the learnings and reflections encountered by the CIVICUS Youth team during 2021 while engaging with our different youth communities. We want to show the challenges and possibilities of meaningfully engaging young people to promote stronger civic spaces.


    The second year of the COVID-19 pandemic left many learnings for civil society practitioners working to foster a culture of collaboration and solidarity among like-minded people and groups. The CIVICUS Youth coordination team is one of those groups of practitioners that aims to strengthen youth civic participation following innovative, dynamic, and peer-support approaches. The following reflections include experiences about creating aculture of accountability, inclusion, and resilience with a membership of3400+ young civil society actors from 150 countries. CIVICUS youth communities are based in multiple time zones, work on diverse topics and have a wide range of different needs and expectations, adding extra layers of complexity to our youth engagement practices. 

    The two central communities ofCIVICUS Youth are theYouth Action Team (YAT) and Youth Action Lab (YAL). YAT serves as a leadership body setting the agenda for the CIVICUS Youth members and interfacing with the CIVICUS Secretariat and Board of directors advocating for meaningful youth engagement in the alliance. The second one, theYouth Action Lab (YAL) exists to test models and approaches to better engage and support young individual activists and youth-led collectives or movements with non-youth focused organisations. The YAL offers financial and in-kind resources to make their activism more effective, resilient, and sustainable. In 2022, a new community of Young Ambassadors will be launched to bring all these learnings from youth power to national youth networks.


    In the first quarter of the year, we startedrecruiting the 2021 cohortsof the YAT and the YAL with a one-month gap and two different objectives and target audiences. One group is formed by young activists belonging to national or regional networks of young people - primarily well-established or registered – (Youth Action Team). The second one is integrated by outstanding and brave individual activists from unregistered associations, collectives, or movements who have not received funds so far and have not participated in an international forum before. 

    In the second quarter, we continuedonboarding the successful young candidates(11 from the YAL and 13 from the YAT). Due to travel restrictions, these processes happened online using simultaneous interpretation and communication platforms such as Zoom, e-mail, WhatsApp and Google Drive. 

    In the third quarter, we focused onnetworking opportunities among the groups and external stakeholders to grow their networks and visibility. These efforts used different virtual event formats and dynamics adapted to the specific objectives of each meeting and audience. 

    In the fourth quarter, we saw the outcomes of the efforts put intotrust and community building through group evaluation and check-in sessions. Activists were being very transparent about their progress, challenges, and availability to continue with the teams, and we saw expressions of team solidarity and peer support without the intervention of the Youth coordination team. 

    We hope you enjoy reading about our experiences. These would not have been possible without all of you – members, partners, friends in the non-for profit and justice seeking groups and organisations. 2022 will be a year of showcasing the inspiring work, achievements and struggles members of the Youth Action Lab faced in 2021. Hope to see you there and have the opportunity to meet them or connect with them again.


  • In their own words: How youth-led initiatives practice constituent accountability

    Youth leaders from India and South Africa share how they have been practicing accountability to the individuals, communities and groups that their work serves and supports (otherwise known as their constituents). They have each done this by highlighting one of the three dimensions of constituent accountability: giving account (sharing information about who they are and what they do); taking account (continuously listening to and acting on feedback from their constituents); being held to account (including the role of constituents in organisational decision making). 

    ConstituentAccountabilit RRYouth Blog0921

    Giving Account

    Enhle Khumalo, CIVICUS Youth Action Lab - Johannesburg, South Africa 
    How the CIVICUS Youth team has worked to clearly explain the process and reasons for selecting its Youth Action Lab participants, thereby boosting transparency, inclusivity, and the strength of the youth network.  

    At CIVICUS, the Youth workstream gathers all members of the alliance under 30. To date, they represent 32% of CIVICUS membership coming from 145 countries. The main means of communication with members are quarterly newsletters, periodic social media posts on the CIVICUS youth united! Facebook group and updates on the website with blog posts, learning stories, or outcomes reports. Since 2020, CIVICUS Youth has been testing a pilot project that was co-created with a group of young grassroots members in 2019 - the Youth Action Lab. In this project we have published the design process, the research and feedback that informed the creation of the prototype and the criteria on why we recruited the 20 activists that we have recruited so far. For this we used the multiple platforms available like the website, social media, webinars and newsletters to make all the announcements in an inclusive manner for members and partners from English, Spanish and French-speaking communities. As a result, over 900 people applied to be part of the Youth Action Lab cohort in 2020 and almost 600 in 2021. When the call for applications closed, all applicants received an email announcing the decision of the youth co-design team who selected the two cohorts and the reasons why they were or were not successful candidates for that round. Additionally, during the course of the pilot project, the coordination team shares learnings, results reports and learning blog posts about the progress the Youth Action Lab is making and the challenges it is encountering. This transparent way of working has allowed the organisation to increase its number of youth members and has allowed the organisation to reach and fund inspiring young human rights defenders and movement builders, especially young activists who are outside of traditional funders circles and generally would not be able to be part of this group had the information not have been clearly explained and disseminated.

    The song that makes me think of this project is “We are young”.

    Taking Account

    Sanaya Patel, One future collective - Bombay, India
    How the One Future Collective uses continuous feedback from both team members and training participants to secure buy-in, adapt activities to changing contexts and expand its reach. 

    We are a social purpose organisation that leverages knowledge, advocacy and community building towards a world built on social justice and led by communities of care. I’m going to talk about taking account, which means actively listening to community needs and adapting your work accordingly. For us, community begins within the team, so the first thing that we do is that for all our team members, we have a two-way annual review, which means that at the end of the year, just like you would in any other job of yours, you have a review about your work with your supervisor, but the cool part is that you get to review the supervisor and the organization based on parameters shared prior the review. So we do listen to what people in the organization feel about how we function, about team members, whether they have had any issues and how they have been able to resolve them. The second thing we do is that we have feedback for all of our training programs. We conduct a lot of training based on our core work themes around gender, justice, health and feminist leadership, and it’s often helpful to have feedback mechanisms built into your training, which means that as you conduct your programs and as you work with your stakeholders you are able to incorporate your feedback into your work going forward even if the project hasn’t ended yet. And what this helps with is it helps with the buy-in from the communities that you work in because they understand that you are committed to making the changes that they need because you are actively listening to them. I think that one of the best examples of this within our work is our flagship program called the One future fellowship which is a program to develop social justice lense and just Feminist leadership within young members of the society that we live in. Last year was the first year that we went virtual because of the Coronavirus pandemic, and we realized that having an 8-hour day of training was very exhausting, and by the end of it several people were experiencing zoom fatigue, so what we did for this years cohort is that we first took it to the community that had already been part of the fellowship. We had an Idea’s Lab, and asked them what could work. We went to the previous fellowship and asked if they would prefer a different model of functioning and then eventually came up with a system where we have two cohorts of fellows, break down the hours and have fewer hours on screen. The result was amazing because we got to choose not 20 like we usually do but 40 fellows and we expanded our reach from within India to the whole of South Asia because we were able to adjust timings. This worked well because we have a more diverse group with us. This is an example of how we took account from our community to build better systems.

    The song that reminds me of our experience here is Stand Up For Something by Andra Day and Common, because I feel we need to give our communities the power to speak and when we do, transformative things happen.

    Being held to account

    Kejal Savla, Blue Ribbon Movement - Bombay, India
    How the Blue Ribbon Movement is using consent-based decision-making to give young people more direct control about the leadership programmes it runs with them. 

    Blue Ribbon Movement works with young people to build their leadership skills since 2013, which is almost 8 years now. Around 4 years after doing our work with around 200-300 young people, we were wondering what are these youth leaders doing next, and how can we be sure that the program worked and after the program how can young people really take leadership where they can decide for themselves and there can be spaces which are really youth-led and youth decided. So rather than anybody else deciding and designing programs, and empowering young people, can young people step up to build what empowerment means for them. And let them decide what they would like to learn, how they would like to learn to contribute to society and how they would like to engage in their own learnings in what society would expect in all of them or what they would like to contribute back. So that brought us to the process of designing a youth-led movement and when a movement comes in, movements are citizen-led, so we were wondering how do we make this space youth-led and how do we make decision making open and inclusive because even in young people, there can be hierarchies and there can be a lot of social-economic backgrounds that may be playing out and inclusion may not be really true. We discovered this senior Mohanbhai from Mendhalekha in India who is practicing with 100% consent-based decision making in a tribal village and we learned from him, spoke to him a number of times and we decided to take a better approach. All the key decisions of the movement happen with 100% consent, which means even if 1 person says that they do not agree to what’s happening, all of us are forced to listen to dialogue and then find out what’s a workable solution from them. Of course, when this started, all of us were super nervous and felt that this would take forever. But as times progressed, it helped us learn a lot about each other, so next time we already know what this person will be expecting in this situation and next time we already decide based on their preferences. All in all, this approach has really helped us build ownership in youth leaders. These youth leaders are volunteers and are not full-time employees paid to do this. They decide, they own their decisions, implement their decisions with a lot of ease, and more and more, they own the movement. Anything that happens there happens because they want it to happen, and each of them easily contributes 10-25 hours a week, so it’s been a wonderful experience for us doing this, and I hope some of this can be experimented in different ways at other places.

    The following piece of music by Aao Hum Sab Haath Milayein by Kalangan Baalswar and  Varsha Bhave reminds me of the importance of listening and learning from the feedback of communities and using that to improve the way we do our work.


  • La constitution d'une équipe mondiale diversifiée de militants pour la transformation sociale : Accueillons l'équipe d'action jeunesse CIVICUS 2021-22

    Nous, l'équipe de jeunesse de CIVICUS, sommes très reconnaissants à l'équipe d'action jeunesse (YAT) 2019-2020, un groupe de jeunes leaders accomplis et inspirants du monde entier qui travaillent ensemble pendant un an et demi pour insuffler une vision plus adaptée aux jeunes au sein de CIVICUS et servir d'inspiration à d'autres organisations à travers le monde pour que les jeunes soient au centre et prennent des décisions qui ne laissent pas derrière eux le pouvoir de 1,8 milliard, la plus grande génération de jeunes que le monde ait jamais connue.

    CIVICUS YAT 2021 22 FrenchLe YAT a participé activement au processus de conception, de sélection et d'identification de la prochaine génération de cette équipe. Chacun est devenu un ambassadeur dans sa propre région pour diffuser l'appel à candidatures auprès des militants locaux, nous aidant ainsi à avoir une présence dans des communautés qui, autrement, nous auraient échappé. Ensuite, ils ont fourni des idées utiles pour mieux évaluer les candidatures, comme le fait d'avoir des questions moins nombreuses mais plus provocantes qui ont atteint le cœur de l'activisme des candidats. Enfin, ils ont aidé à évaluer les profils des YAT entrantset à choisir les profils les plus prometteurs pour créer une équipe qui soit complémentaire et qui puisse exploiter la diversité comme un atout clé pour favoriser l'innovation et une communauté mondiale prête à relever les défis locaux.

    Les principaux critères utilisés sont les suivants : avoir une expérience de militant et faire partie d'une organisation plus large dirigée par des jeunes, être passionné, engagé et plein de ressources ; avoir une bonne compréhension de CIVICUS Youth ; avoir des compétences et des ressources qui peuvent nourrir et être entretenues par une communauté mondiale de militants ; et avoir l'aval d'une organisation/mouvement ou d'un collectif qui peut évaluer avec confiance ses compétences de leadership, sa proactivité et sa capacité de mobilisation pour des causes sociales. Grâce à ces éléments, il a été plus facile d'identifier des profils holistiques qui bénéficieraient grandement de l'appartenance à un réseau plus large ayant une portée et une influence mondiales.

    Après ce processus de sélection minutieux, le nouveau YAT comprend un groupe équilibré entre les sexes, avec 7 femmes et 6 hommes, représentant les Amériques et les Caraïbes, l'Afrique subsaharienne, l'Asie, l'Europe et le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord. Il compte des militants âgés de 18 à 30 ans, dont l'expérience va d'organisations mondiales comme l'UNICEF, One Young World et Amnesty International, à des réseaux régionaux comme l'Afrika Youth Movement et des groupes locaux comme Ayudando a Honduras ou One Future Collective. Mélange de conteurs, de militants de base, de défenseurs internationaux, d'entrepreneurs sociaux, d'organisateurs, de mobilisateurs et de chercheurs, l'équipe possède un large éventail de compétences pour aborder les défis locaux dans une perspective mondiale. L'équipe YAT 2021-22 comprend un militant des droits LGBTI et un champion de l'intégration des jeunes vivant avec un handicap. Bien qu'individuellement, chacun ait son propre créneau d'intervention, collectivement, ils peuvent insuffler un changement social. Cependant, il ne s'agit pas seulement des jeunes. Kejal Slava, d'Inde, le responsable du Mouvement du Ruban Bleu - un groupe visant à redéfinir la structure de leadership et à utiliser des pratiques non violentes - dit qu'un monde avec un engagement significatif des jeunes serait peint avec les couleurs de la sagesse intergénérationnelle, qui crée un espace pour que chacun puisse apprendre et agir de façon créative ensemble. Yi Kang Choo, étudiant en législation sur les droits de l'homme de Malaisie, ajoute que c'est un monde où les dirigeants nationaux et les jeunes dirigent ensemble, en travaillant comme partenaires avec une pertinence et une valeur égales.

    Il n'a fallu que peu de temps pour se connaître jusqu'à présent et ils ont eu le courage de créer un puissant écosystème de transformation, où la jeunesse est au centre et remet en question le statu quo par l'unité et la diversité. Cela pourrait être le début d'un changement qui s'étend à l'ensemble de l'alliance CIVICUS et au-delà.



  • Liberian musician, Indian student and Angolan author named as global creative arts contest winners!

    What do a Liberian rapper, an Indian journalism graduate and a young Angolan author have in common? 

    They are all winners of a global contest that encourages young creatives to imagine the kind of democracy they would like to live in.

    Hosted by global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, under the theme, “Re-imagining Democracy: In Search of Silenced Voices”, the Through Arts and Imagination creative arts competition was organised to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12. The aim was to encourage young creative artists to share their vision of what democracy should be and to raise the silenced voices of youth globally.

    Contestants submitted entries in three creative arts categories: written arts, which included poems, short stories and essays of 500 words or less; visual arts, which included drawings, paintings, cartoons and photography; and multimedia arts, which included short films of no longer than 2 minutes and songs. Creators had to be under 30 years old to enter.

    Prizes for the winners, whose submissions included a song, a poem and a cartoon, include a USD300 cash prize to be donated to a social change organisation of their choice.

    Music artist, Amaze, wowed judges with his song promoting voter awareness in his native Liberia, entitled “Know Who To Vote For”.

    “I feel democracy should be everybody business,” said Amaze.

    “My inspiration was to educate voters to vote right and not base on ethnicity, scholarships, or religious background,” said Amaze.

    He was one of 15 finalists and was selected for the best multimedia arts entry from among dozens of entries from across the globe by a panel of judges and almost 1,500 online voters worldwide.

    Amaze, whose name is Henry Amazin Toe, started his music career at age 14 in Guinea and is currently a hipco Accountability Ambassador who mentors other underground artists to create music for social change. Hipco is a genre of dance music that blends hip-hop, R&B and traditional Liberian music with lyrics in colloquial dialects spoken in Liberia. 

    The contest’s the visual arts category winner, Vandita Sariya from India, came out tops for a cartoon, entitled “One” that she says was inspired by a surge in intolerance in society where she lives.

    “A wave of pseudo-nationalism is going on in my country, India and people are judging and even killing others for who they are, what they look like, what they eat and what their beliefs are,” said Sariya.

    Sariya, who says she plans to donate her prize money to towards children’s education and nourishment, is an emerging creative artist who has been practicing her craft for just six months.

    A poem by Angolan author, Cláudia Cassoma – encouraging youth to see themselves as the “master key” to all the solutions they seek – was chosen as the winner of the written arts category.

    Cassoma, who has had four books published, says the poem, entitled Chave Mestra" (Portuguese for master key), was inspired by a common attitude she encounters among young people in her country, Angola and globally.

    “Today, one thing I hear a lot are complaints by youth about the million things that are wrong with the world while they themselves are doing nothing. Usually, that's the case because they feel they can't do anything,” Cassoma said.

    “The piece is a message for youth to reimagine democracy by seeing themselves as the master key, the key to solve any if not all issues we face,” she said.  

    Said Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS Youth Working Group coordinator: “The aim of this contest was to give a space for young people to express a vision for the kind of democracy they desire. It was also an opportunity to mobilise young creative minds from every corner of the globe, offering a platform to amplify their messages related to the respect of democratic values and social justice.”

    “In a world where information is shared with so much hate, discrimination and stigmatisation, we want to enable arts to be a tool to share messages of hope, justice and equality,” said Novoa.

    The winning entries will also be featured in CIVICUS’ State of Civil Society Report 2018, to be released in September 2018.


    For more information, contact:

    Grant Clark

    CIVICUS Communications team





  • Quatre pratiques pour renforcer le militantisme chez les jeunes

    Réflexions concernant l’année 2021 par Elisa Novoa, Enhle Khumalo et Leonardo Párraga

    Grâce à la richesse et au pouvoir des communautés de la Jeunesse CIVICUS, l’équipe de coordination de la Jeunesse CIVICUS a tiré des enseignements et mis au point des pratiques en 2021 autour des questions suivantes :

    1. Comment mettre un place un processus de recrutement véritablement inclusif en déplaçant le pouvoir de décision?
    2. Comment intégrer les nouveaux membres et transmettre les informations de manière efficace?
    3. Comment créer des opportunités et des espaces favorisant la mise en réseau et la visibilité?
    4. Comment créer une culture de redevabilité et de solidarité entre pairs?

    La série d’articles qui suit partage les enseignements que l’équipe Action Jeunesse de CIVICUS a tirés et les réflexions qu’elle a eues en 2021 en coopérant avec nos différentes communautés de jeunes. Notre objectif est de souligner les défis et les opportunités pour impliquer les jeunes de manière judicieuse afin de promouvoir le renforcement des espaces civiques.


    La deuxième année de la pandémie de COVID-19 a permis à bon nombre d’agents de la société civile militant pour une culture de coopération et de solidarité entre des individus et des groupes animés par les mêmes principes de tirer de nombreux enseignements. L’équipe de coordination de la Jeunesse CIVICUS fait partie de ces groupes d’agents qui visent à renforcer la participation civique des jeunes par des approches innovantes, dynamiques et de soutien par les pairs. Les réflexions suivantes comprennent des expériences sur la création d’une culture de redevabilité, d’inclusion et de résilience, avec un effectif de plus de 3400 jeunes acteurs de la société civile de 150 pays. Les communautés de jeunes de CIVICUS se trouvent dans différents fuseaux horaires, travaillent sur des sujets divers et ont un large éventail de besoins et d’attentes, ce qui accroît la complexité de nos pratiques en matière d’implication des jeunes.

    LA Jeunesse CIVICUS (CIVICUS Youth) se compose de deux principales communatés : d’une part, l’Équipe Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Team, YAT), et d’autre part, le Laboratoire d’Action Jeunesse (Youth Action Lab, YAL). Le YAT est un organe de direction qui fixe l’ordre du jour pour les membres de Jeunesse CIVICUS et assure l’interface avec le Secrétariat et le conseil d’administration de CIVICUS, en plaidant pour une participation significative des jeunes dans l’Alliance. Le YAL, quant à lui, est là pour tester des modèles et des approches permettant de mieux impliquer et soutenir les jeunes militants isolés et les collectifs ou mouvements dirigés par des jeunes auprès d’organisations non axées sur les jeunes. Le YAL offre des ressources financières et en nature pour rendre leur militantisme plus efficace, plus résilient et plus durable. En 2022, une nouvelle communauté de Jeunes Ambassadeurs sera créée pour mettre à disposition des réseaux nationaux de jeunesse tous les enseignements tirés grâce à cette jeunesse en puissance.


    Au cours du premier trimestre de l’année, nous avons commencé à recruter les promotions 2021 du YAT et du YAL avec un écart d’un mois et deux objectifs et publics cibles différents. Le premier groupe se compose de jeunes militants appartenant à des réseaux nationaux ou régionaux de jeunes, pour la plupart bien établis ou enregistrés (YAT). Le second est formé par des militants isolés courageux et remarquables provenant d’associations, de collectifs ou de mouvements non enregistrés, qui, jusqu’à présent, n’ont pas bénéficié de fonds et n’ont jamais participé à un forum international.

    Au deuxième trimestre, nous avons poursuivi l’intégration des jeunes candidats retenus (11 du YAL et 13 du YAT). En raison des restrictions de voyage, ces processus se sont déroulés en ligne, grâce à de l’interprétation simultanée et au moyen de plateformes de communication (Zoom, WhatsApp, Google Drive, courriel, etc.).

    Au troisième trimestre, nous nous sommes concentrés sur les opportunités de mise en réseau entre les groupes et les parties prenantes externes afin d’accroître leurs réseaux et leur visibilité, en ayant recours à divers moyens et dynamiques adaptées aux objectifs spécifiques de chaque réunion et de chaque public.

    Au quatrième trimestre, nous avons pu observer les résultats des efforts déployés pour instaurer la confiance et renforcer la communauté grâce à l’évaluation des groupes et aux sessions de réunions. Les militants ont fait preuve d’une grande transparence quant aux progrès accomplis, aux difficultés rencontrée, et à leur prédisposition à poursuivre le travail avec les équipes, et nous avons été témoins de signes de solidarité au sein de l’équipe et de soutien par les pairs, sans que l’équipe de coordination de Jeunesse CIVICUS ne soit intervenue.

    Nous espérons que vous apprécierez la lecture de nos expériences, qui n’auraient pas été possibles sans vous tous – membres, partenaires, amis dans les groupes et organisations à but non lucratif militant pour la justice. En 2022, nous présenterons le travail inspirant accompli par le YAL ainsi que ses accomplissements et les difficultés rencontrées en 2021. Nous comptons sur votre présence et espérons que vous aurez la possibilité de les rencontrer et de dialoguer avec eux de nouveau.



  • Reimagining youth power post COVID-19: Lessons from the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator

    GoalkeeperspicCIVICUS’ recently concluded experiment with a group of young activists offers interesting insights for youth power in a post-Covid-19 world. Many youth-led organisations say traditional grants by northern donors are not quite suitable for them due to, among other factors, donor’s impact expectations and reporting requirements. Are there better ways to resource youth so they can create effective change towards sustainable development in their communities? Here is what we learned through the Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator.

    by CIVICUS Youth

    The global COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world as we know it. Many organisations have adjusted by adopting new and better ways of working, co-existing and resourcing efforts to defend democracies, hold leaders accountable and protect civic rights.

    CSOs are leading theresponse to COVID-19, including youth groups, who are reimagining and adjusting ways to ensure more resources are channelled towards the most vulnerable and in need around the world.

    The story of a youth resourcing pilot

    In the spirit of social innovation, learning and experimenting, CIVICUS and partners have  been testing different resourcing models to support grassroots individuals, organisations and movements who are less likely to work withtraditional donors. Many youth-led organisations, while addressing some of the most pressing challenges faced by humanity today, have limited opportunities to access funding, and when they do receive resources, they often come with rigid requirements and conditions, or relationships with donors that are hard to manage. One of the alternative models we tested is theGoalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator, which was launched in 2018 with six partners to showcase what young activists can achieve through holistic support that goes beyond funding. The launch of the Accelerator was a direct response to the challenges young people face in accessing sufficient and appropriate flexible resources to meaningfully engage in development decisions and activities that affect their communities. The results were a rich source of learning for us at CIVICUS and all the programme partners and we hope to you too.

    Provide resources that support civil society in different ways

    The 20 month-long project supported 26 promising youth advocates (ages 18-35) from Africa, Asia and Latin America who are using data and storytelling in innovative ways to address Sustainable Development Goals 1-6 (poverty, hunger, health, education, gender equality, and water and sanitation). In addition to flexible funding, the advocates received technical support, mentorship, travel, engagement opportunities as well as a space to provide feedback on adjustments to programming to better address their needs and amplify the impact of their work. This ensured a truly “participant-led approach” where their voices were heard and meaningfully engaged and part of the process. 

    As a result, all of the participants report having increased their skills, 80% say they have forged new partnerships and more than half of them have managed to secure additional funding to sustain their projects. 

    Give activists space in media

    After over a year of working with the Goalkeeper advocates, we noticed a significant growth and prominence in the role they play in their countries of intervention. Their projects and profiles were shared publicly and they achieved improved services, scale, recognition and increased accountability among key decision-makers on the issues/thematic areas they are advocating. 

    Be open and flexible throughout the process

    Being open and responsive to feedback and the context and needs of advocates, allowed space for the programme to experiment new ways of doing things. Every three months, the 26 advocates met in small groups online to share success stories, challenges, needs, questions and suggestions for improvement. The space for reflection among peers also boosted creativity and ideas for collaboration.

    While experimenting with flexibility and trust, we learned to prioritise the principle of “do no harm” (especially in potentially dangerous contexts). Traditional grant-making has not always facilitated holistic support that provides for the physical, mental and financial security of young people.

    It was also very important to document and evidence the results of this approach so funders and organisations like CIVICUS have the certainty that flexibility, trust and meaningful equal relationships with grantees can lead to valuable learnings, strong partnerships and community impact.

    Avoid hefty reporting requirements

    We tried to avoid burdening participants by designing a very simple monitoring and evaluation framework that allowed for quick understanding and usability when reporting. Our previous civil society resourcing research revealed that reporting requirements from donors are often rigid, burdensome and come at a high cost, proving an obstacle to activists working towards the actual needs of the community. The framework we used allowed the advocates and us to really analyse progress achieved and it was adaptable to each of their programmes based on their quarterly updates and changes in their contexts. As a result, many participants started to use these tools beyond this particular program and adopted similar methodologies for other work within their organisations. 

    The Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator was an opportunity to take part in an innovative piece of work. Young people are the key to sustainable development and their creativity and innovation could be the missing link to solving some of the world’s intractable challenges of today. The Accelerator was a constant process of learning how to support a systemic shift within civil society to address long-standing injustices experienced by marginalized young people, especially in terms of resourcing. And, learning happens not in the moments when we think we are doing well, but most often through the difficult and challenging times – so we need to embrace those.


  • Strengthening young activists by tagging-in local mentors and standing back

    By CIVICUS youth

    youth action lab logo finalOn the celebration of the International Youth month in August 2020, CIVICUS Youth launched a new mentorship format for the ten participants of the Youth Action Lab. The Youth Action Lab is a pilot project that seeks to test ways to strengthen youth activism in the global south. In the first year we learned how to better resource the next generation of changemakers in civil society through different approaches and the most valuable one was the mentorship component of the Lab.

    Why mentorship was part of the Youth Action Lab

    During the design phase of the Lab in 2019, the co-design team, composed of nine young grassroots activists itself, said that a mentorship or bespoke support component was necessary to support young activists to strengthen their activism strategies. Furthermore, other research from CIVICUS previous pilot projects with young activists, such as the Goalkeepers and interviews with other organisations working with youth, also highlighted the importance of mentorship and how valued it is by young people. Therefore, we knew that mentorship had to be a key part of the Lab to strengthen the efficiency, resilience and sustainability of youth movements advancing social justice agendas at the local level. With the support of an Advisory Group, we framed the mentorship as a horizontal learning exchange between the Lab participants and experienced civil society partners - not a traditional hierarchical mentorship. We wanted both parties to learn and grow from the experience in a safe and respectful space.

    How did the Lab learning partnership start?

    By the end of August 2020, each of the ten Lab participants identified a thematic and a technical learning partner to engage with over the course of 6 months. The Lab participants chose the themes and technical areas based on their area of work, geographic location, and previous skills needs assessment. Reflecting the diversity of the Lab participants themselves, there was a range of themes such as feminist leadership in the Pacific, Indigenous Rights Advocacy in the Philippines and rights of rural trans sex workers, women and youth in Uganda. Laber’s skills need assessment also showed diverse needs, so there were technical partners covering project management, budget management, and volunteer coordination to mention a few. In two cases, the thematic and technical partners were the same person, but in most cases, these were two separate experienced civil society partners. A really innovative arrangement came from the Lab participant Seif from Tunisia. He was interested in completing a film project during his lab year, so he decided to use his video service provider as his learning partner. This allowed him to learn directly with his partner by completing a project together. It was an arrangement outside of how we had conceived the partnership but led to an impressive body of work and skills transfer.

    Seven of the ten Lab participants identified people they already knew and three were introduced to each other by CIVICUS. We tried to have the learning partner in the same country as the Lab participant and this worked for those that identified their own, but the CIVICUS matches were in different countries than the Lab participant. The CIVICUS matches also took longer to find which meant they did not get the full six months. Having the partner in-country was a high predictor and factor for success.

    Once the learning partner confirmed interest in participating, CIVICUS sent a formal invitation, including the expectations: time commitment of six months, two sessions a month, one hour a session, USD900 stipend for the full commitment. If the learning partner accepted, they sent back their CV and three references. CIVICUS sent them a contract, workplan template and care pack which included information about CIVICUS, the Lab, CIVICUS Diversity & Inclusion Statement, accountability mechanisms, and how to create teams and psychological safety. They had one month to complete the workplan and submit it to the CIVICUS Youth coordination team along with the signed contract. The workplan was a one-pager that asked: what is the knowledge or skill you want to build, the projected outcome, the skills needed and the target completion date that the Lab participant and the learning partner agreed on.

    The workplan was the only formal deliverable in the program. It was up to each of the partnerships to determine the times, ways and methods to best accomplish the desired objectives. Therefore, they had the flexibility to proceed with the meetings in the ways and times that worked best for them. They decided how to best use their time. For many, they had conversations on networking and advocacy plans. The learning partners filled many different roles over the six months – sometimes as advisors, sometimes cheerleaders, and sometimes actively making connections. For example, one learning partner helped connect the Lab participant to someone in government for an interview that furthered their activist objectives.

    What were the key ingredients of the Learning Partnership?

    Offering a stipend to a civil society leader or specialist in the area of interest of the Lab participant for their time mentoring them allowed both the Lab participant and learning partner to engage in a committed relationship structured by a contract moderated by a third party and in a space where the time of both partners was respected and valued. It was an investment in local network strengthening and provided flexibility within clear objectives and structure. Both aspects have been shown to be ways CIVICUS can add value and provide a high-quality experience for participants.

    Relationships are key to building leadership and that takes time. Therefore, a space within a program to really invest in challenges and working
    with young leaders expands our understanding of the reality they live in while also working together to grow through it. The Program is quite
    open and flexible without a lot of complicated systems or interference from the CIVICUS team, thus giving ownership to the participant to work
    the way that is best for them
    .’ - Youth Action Lab Learning Partner

    We evaluated the programme with the most recognised standard, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and it scored 92, which falls into the highest range: World-class. The learning partners all showed up for a final reflection session to share what worked and what to improve for the next round. The learning partners said it was a good experience because they learned about how to be mentors and about the struggle of the work of young activists in their countries. Because the learning partners were in the same country as the Lab participant in most cases, they could really provide specific and personalised advice better than what CIVICUS could provide. The Lab participants noted how important this was and it highlighted that for a global organisation like CIVICUS, it could not provide such bespoke support that a local experienced civil society leader could for these youth activists. They specifically mentioned that they really appreciated the workplan template, the autonomy, and the flexibility.

    ‘The learning partners helped expand on practical and contextualized knowledge I needed in my work, especially because they were also focused
    on the same area, which for me is Indigenous knowledge in the Philippines. The programme also allowed me to gain more relevant skills such
    as comms.’ - Kinja Tauli, Youth Action Lab participant

    Despite the high score, the learning partners and lab participants still had ways we could improve. They highlighted that six months was too short, therefore, the 2021 cohort of the Youth Action Lab will have a ten month instead of six-month learning partner engagement. From the feedback session, we learned that some additional support on tracking the journey and sharing what is learned would be welcomed. As such, the new resources will include tools to track the progress of their learning journey through outcomes and story harvesting. And if interested, they will also have the possibility to write a blog post capturing the highlights of their work as learning partners.

    To keep following the progress and learnings of the Youth Action Lab, subscribe to e-CIVICUS and join the Facebook group: CIVICUS youth united!


  • Webinar: “How to Resource Youth-Led Movements in the 21st Century”

    Did you know that most youth-led groups and movements operate with an annual budget of less than 10,000 USD? It´s known that young people in the activism and development sector in the Global South face significant resourcing challenges: little capacity to attract funding and comply with donor requirements; ​restricted social, political and economic spaces to participate and grow; extensive gaps between the funds available to serve youth versus those managed directly by youth, and significant disparities between the resourcing opportunities that target young individual leaders within groups and movements rather than to the group itself, just to mention a few.

    These and other challenges, as well as potential resourcing opportunities, best practices and innovative models that can help to overcome them were discussed during the webinarHow to Resource Youth-Led Movements in the 21st Century”. This event was organised by CIVICUS with representatives of the CIVICUS Youth network and RECREAR on June 26th, 2019. If you missed it, watch it on CIVICUS’ Youtube channel and share your thoughts in the comment box.

    This webinar is part of CIVICUS’ efforts to help increase the resiliency of civil society in a context of systemic repressions and discriminations against it, and to promote changes in the behavior and culture of the funding community and the traditional civil society sector.

    The 21st century has showed us new dynamics in how citizens claim their rights, which is more evident in the case of youth-led civil action. Both funders and civil society organisations are invited to be part of this change by re-thinking how to work with this generation of young change-makers, especially those in the Global South, working at the local level and organising in more innovative ways. Together, we must advocate and raise awareness on the need for wider support to leverage our common networks, knowledge and visibility within the funding community to push for more and better resourcing mechanisms for young activists.

    The webinar’s panelists were Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS Youth Engagement Coordinator; Gioel Gioacchino, director of research at RECREAR; and Wilson Villones, researcher and a Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator advocate.

    We invite you to watch the webinar session where the panelists shared:

    • The key findings from CIVICUS’ “Landscape and trends ​analysis on resourcing​ youth-led groups and movements” ​
    • Why youth-led movements and groups need differentiated resourcing practices and models
    • Personal experiences with program that is intentionally tailoring support and resources to young activists: Goalkeepers Youth Action Accelerator

    The “Landscape and trends ​analysis on resourcing​ youth-led groups and movements” ​will be published as a toolkit and available to the public in September. Stay tuned!

    If you have any questions about this webinar or the analysis, please contact  

    Watch webinar: