Scalable Strategy for Youth Creative Potential Development
Throughout the developing world, young men and women are facing high unemployment coupled with strong feelings of dissatisfaction with the quality of life in contexts of weak governance and institutions, increased political instability, and growing state authoritarianism. These are factors that render societies vulnerable and play a role in youth radicalization. Predominant strategies to counter these phenomena remain state-centred, with limited participation of civil society stakeholders. People who suffer most from this violence, insecurity, and lack of civic engagement, such as young men and women, continue to be largely excluded from participating in policy and governance-related decisions. Nevertheless, youth are active in an array of movements associated with emerging social, economic, cultural, and political issues.
Pakistan is facing a youth bulge — 33.4% of the country’s 202 million people are 10 to 24 years old. The majority of these youth are very poor and live in slums and informal settlements. Increasingly, the social, cultural, and community platforms available to youth, such as mosques, schools, parks, libraries, community centres, and sports clubs, are being captured by radical factions. As a result, youth, and especially girls and young women, are fast losing access to these spaces. Attacks on cultural festivals and sports events, mob violence at educational institutions, punishments for social media comments and blogging, and restrictions on art performances and exhibitions are reducing cultural space and limiting young people’s creative potential.
This project, one of 15 under the umbrella of the initiative “Giving youth a voice: promoting spaces for civic engagement, inclusion, and violence reduction in South Asia and Latin America”, is being implemented by the College of Youth Activism and Development in Islamabad, Pakistan. It proposes to build the creative potential of youth to counter violence and exclusion by building cultural platforms and using communication technologies to create space for interaction among youths from different caste, ethnic, and religious identities. The goal is to build new common, secular identities, and counter sectarian identities that are used for social fragmentation and incitement to violence. This research project led by youth for youth empowerment aims to reclaim the social, cultural, and public spaces to counter violence and exclusion.