100 Voices – Leading for Change Youth Dialogue

“Youth” is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence and awareness of our interdependence as members of a community. The power of the youth is so immense because they have all the qualities required for achievers. They are full of enthusiasm, they have the desire to achieve and above all they are a storehouse of physical energy. If they are guided in a correct and a meaningful manner, they have the capacity which no one else can match.

The “100 voices Youth Dialogue” which is a project carried out by the UNFPA, uses the power of youth to address youth issues on “Sexual and Reproductive Health” (SRH) and “Gender Based Violence” (GBV). Youth Dialogues are carried out all over the country mainly focused on getting the youth to voice their opinions on how to address these burning issues.

The 3rd Dialogue of “100 voices Youth Dialogue” campaign, organized along with the Rotaract Club of University of Sri Jayawardenapura was held on the 05th August 2015 at the United Nations compound in Bauddhaloka Mawatha. Representing our club Rtr. Shalini Wijewardana, Rtr. Bimla Kannangara, Rtr. Bhashini Gamage and Rtr. Melani Perera attended the event.

The session was conducted by a young, energetic and an enthusiastic individual Miss. Onalie Ariyabandhu who made the participants to voice their opinions on the topic which was subjected to discussion. This program encourages interaction among the participants who are from many different backgrounds. 

According to the proposed plans, the “Youth Dialogue” is to be conducted under three steps.

  • Sharing knowledge on sexual harassment and gender based violence. 
  • Policies in place against sexual harassment and gender based violence.
  • Providing a platform to discuss and debate about addressing issues and documentation of youth perspectives and policy recommendations.

After the completion of the “Youth Dialogues” in the months of July to September, the results of the program will be documented. A gap analysis will be carried out regarding the national policies and they will be finally presented to government stakeholders from where the change should be initiated and it will be followed by a stakeholder dialogue during the month of October.

RC UOC FMF members with Onalie Ariyabandhu

In the 3rd dialogue which was conducted, the participants were questioned as to how far they were aware about the “National Youth Policy of Sri Lanka”. It was revealed that none of them were even aware that such policies actually exist. Further it was revealed that in the “National Policy of Higher Education”, it is only in one place that they speak about violence. This therefore establishes that the “Youth Dialogue” is indeed a necessity for the betterment of the Youth.

With the aid of very informative video clips, the program draws the attention of the participants on various burning issues in the society which includes

  • Underage marriages
  • Underage pregnancies
  • Unsafe abortions
  • Having no access to contraception
  • Only 30% of men and 20% of young women having knowledge on HIV in the Asia Pacific region, etc.

It was emphasized during the session that, what needs to be done to address these growing concerns are to SUPPORT, ENSURE and AMMEND laws and policies to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health among young people.

The participants are given a brainstorming session to voice as young intellects on what needs to be done as solutions for sexual harassment and GBV. The participants are asked to record their views on how to engage in the change and with whom to work in order to make the change. Each group is given an opportunity to voice and present their opinions to the participants and they are documented by the session facilitator to be used in the policy implementation process.

This program makes all the young participants understand that their opinions are needed to make a change in the society. It makes them aware of various problems that are faced by the youth all around the world. The session facilitator emphasizes on how important it is to understand that we are born as humans to this world to do great things. Making a change is not an easy task and initiating it from changing the National Policies is even more difficult and time consuming. Each and every one of us has a responsibility for each other and we are meant to contribute to the world to our fullest capacity. The purpose of this program is to make all the participants understand how powerful we are as youth and what we can do to make a change today for a better tomorrow. 

Our members of the Rotaract Club of University of Colombo Faculty of Management & Finance are ready to support this youth dialogue by being one of the 100 Voices in carrying forward the message and thereby try to identify a resolution to these burning issues involving the youth.

Written by-
Rtr. Bhashini Gamage (Sub-Editor)
Rtr. Shalini Wijewardana (Vice President)
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