Youth Activism Project
The actions within the Youth Network framework aim to encourage and inspire the youth of Cyprus to actively participate in the efforts for a peaceful solution of the Cyprus problem, and in the medium to long-term to become active concerned citizens of a united and sustainable Cyprus. Over a period of two years, this project will implement a well-orchestrated set of activities to actively engage youth in peace building, to empower and support the youth to play an active role in the reconciliation process and to build and strengthen the necessary support structures for them to continue in youth activism. The project will target youth as well as youth leaders and teachers. Activities will cover research on youth opinions and attitudes, media outreach and communication tools, summer camps and festivals for different age groups, exchange visits, workshops to promote activism, debates and a youth parliament as well as comprehensive training programmes and a communications and outreach strategy including the development of an island wide action plan on the role of youth in peace building.
The current political climate in Cyprus makes the proposed project that inspires youth activism of utmost importance. The impending/expected decisions regarding peace in Cyprus will create great political and social change, and Cyprus needs able and informed youth activists to partake in this transition. The proposed project will prepare youth activists for this moment. Over the past years, some youth organizations have been involved in peace-building activities and have granted large number of young Cypriots the opportunity to meet their peers from the ‘other’ side, to engage in new friendships, learn about each others’ views, perspectives, fears and hopes, and to jointly participate in peace activities. However, an even larger number of young people are currently disengaged from bi-communal activities or other peace building initiatives and from important social and environmental issues generally. Though 76% of the Greek Cypriots and 69% of the Turkish Cypriots support the idea of young people from both communities to meet and discuss the future of Cyprus, still less than 87% of the Greek Cypriots and 90% of the Turkish Cypriots have ever met! It is important to note that from those that had some contact with the people from the other community there is a general positive feeling (UNFICYP survey 2007). There is an emerging need for the Cypriot youth to get involved and take ownership for a peaceful, just and sustainable future for the island. Youth organizations need to reach out to the disengaged and need to provide them with opportunities to contribute to a change and to participate in peace-building activities. Youth organizations on both sides of the ‘green line’ need to work closely together and strengthen their network so as to ensure a holistic approach towards engaging youth and to be able to successfully respond to the young people’s needs.
The main effort will be to encourage youth to get involved and participate in bicommunal activities and raise their voice to be heard by the leaders. The partners for this initiative believe young people should be engaged and take ownership of any solution as they will be the ones to ask to make it work in a sustainable way. The project will draw upon the wealth of knowledge and experience developed over the past 4-5 years in which youth have been involved in peacebuilding activities. The project is managed and implemented by the Cyprus Network for Youth Development and is coordinated through two leading organizations namely the Soma Akriton in the Greek Cypriot Community and the Mediation Association in the Turkish Cypriot Community who are also part of the network. All Network member organizations have been involved in bi-communal youth projects and initiatives, and have contributed to the peace and reconciliation process on the island. Their involvement and experience proved to them that though some successes were noted, a greater impact will be achieved if they join forces. The target will be to reach larger populations of youth and through the youth to send the messages of peace and reconciliation to their families, the general public and decision makers. The Network itself is now a proof of successful ongoing bicommunal cooperation. The 12 organizations with diverse backgrounds, present a variety of strengths. There are youth organizations that can access the youth. There are experts in research and training that can offer to the youth quality empowerment to play an active role in the peace building process on their island and to offer the necessary guiding support mechanisms for the young peace builders. All organizations are well experienced in youth activities.
This project is funded by the UNDP Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT)