Facilitating Youth Policy Development
In late October 2021, we kicked off Facilitating Youth Policy Development, a civil society project run in Georgia by the Academy of Peace and Development APD, coordinated by Civil Connections in Denmark and funded by CISU—the civil society branch of DANIDA. The project has three central objectives:
1. To increase the competences (mobilize & capacitate) of youths, civil society organisations and civil servants to address youth issues in a participatory and inclusive manner at local municipal level
2. To foster the establishment of sustainable forms of cooperation among youths, local youth organisations and local authorities for enabling youth participatory policy dialogue and inputs
3.Based on the National Youth Policy Document and the lessons learned, to design a regional-based/contextualized youth policy guide and an action plan for bringing this to use, and advocate for its approval and uptake
Youth participation in Georgia is difficult in general—there is still the soviet heritage where people were forced to not participate, and youth is not considered as an equal part of society, they are somewhat belittled. The civil society sector is the one trying to change the way this situation is perceived. The state does not provide such initiative… This issue of youth participation is huge, and the difficulty of dealing with public bodies is great, as opposed to persuading NGOs that young people must be involved in decision making.
The Georgian democratic environment lacks an understanding on youth work, tools and tactics to use. Just sit and plan the whole year, 30 events to take place over the whole year. Some young people are lucky to have active NGOs in their local communities, but apart from some small attempts from youth workers, there lacks a larger, more systematic effort—a need for creativity and activity for youth to be engaged in development.
Young people in rural Georgia have never been told about their right to participate, their ability to go to the local government and discuss and engage. Among public bodies, if you talk to officials they say they don’t close the door to youth, but this isn’t enough. There is a need for true participation, and a discussion of what participation (rather than attendance) actually means.
APD have implemented this kind of civil society project in four municipalities, each time reflecting on challenges and good practice. They have strived to learn what works and does not. Facilitating Youth Policy Development will be another crucial step in APD and Civil Connections’ journey, their quest to improve youth participation in the democratic process.