The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has welcomed the newest cohort of recipients to the Youth Solidarity Fund (YSF). Six organizations based in Africa and Asia were selected to receive seed funding of up to USD 25,000 for the purpose of implementing projects with innovative and effective approaches to intercultural dialogue and interfaith harmony. YSF recipients additionally receive technical support from UNAOC during project implementation, including a capacity building workshop planned for 27 August to 1 September in Nairobi, Kenya. These six organizations join a group of 57 other youth-led organizations that have been funded since 2008.
“Through our YSF project, we will design a curriculum on peace education for youth and children across Sri Lanka,” said Neluni Tillekeratne, 25, co-national director of YSF recipient Sri Lanka Unites. “Education in a post-conflict era needs to address the pillars of peace. We believe that one of these pillars is intercultural dialogue, which is a foundation to bring together young people of all ethnic and religious groups in the country. For this, we are happy to have the support of UNAOC.”
The YSF 2018 edition is implemented through a financial contribution from the Government of Finland. It addresses the need for increased funding of youth-led initiatives, in order to better support the critical contribution young people make to peace and security issues. The recently released Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security, noted in Security Council Resolution 2419 (2018), recommended that an investment be made in youth, such that they are viewed as equal and essential partners for peace. This included the provision of flexible funding designed with the specific needs of youth organizations in mind.
“UNAOC gave us an opportunity to further develop our vision and agenda regarding interculturalism,” shared Gvantsa Khonelidze, 23, who will lead a project using digital storytelling to build bridges of solidarity between young women from religious minorities in different regions of Georgia for the organization, Women’s Gaze. “We plan to create a narrative together, with young people encouraged to find common grounds for cooperation and coordinated action.”
The selected projects will advance intercultural dialogue with a view to prevent violent conflict and promote social inclusion through different means.
“Our project will create a safe place where young people from different religious and cultural backgrounds can sit together to share ideas about denouncing and preventing hate speech in their community. This is key to enhancing mutual understanding and social cohesion for peacebuilding in the Central African Republic,” stated Kessy Ekomo Soignet, 28, executive director of YSF recipient Association URU, who will also present a report on findings to the government, recognizing young people as experts in line with Security Council Resolution 2250 (2015).
Other projects will focus on addressing interethnic tensions and stereotypes in Kyrgyzstan through incorporating elements of intergenerational dialogue; training young people in filmmaking to challenge xenophobic attitudes in South Africa; and using social media campaigns to prevent violent extremism through the promotion of counter narratives among youth in Indonesia. The designated project coordinators are four young women and two young men aged 23 to 29 years old.
Established in 2008, YSF responded to calls for action made by youth-led organizations around the world on the importance of establishing funding mechanisms for youth. Today, it is more relevant than ever, as the global agenda increasingly speaks of young people’s participation and contribution to peace, development and security. More information can be found at: http://unaoc.org/youth-solidarity-fund/