3.1.3 Link young people across countries and continents to address issues of global concern for youth
Young people all over the world face similar issues, many related to economic opportunities. Linking young people across countries and regions gives them opportunities to discover how those issues impact each other in different ways. Plan International, with funding from the European Union, selected 18 European and African youth to work together to create a global social awareness campaign on a relevant issue. The issue they chose was youth unemployment. The aim of the Youth in Action Project was to give opportunities for youth to express their voices, learn from each other, participate in civic issues, and engage people in their own countries and governments on issues relevant to youth. Through the project, the young people traveled to Ghana to get to know each other as a team and to learn how youth unemployment affects youth in Africa. They then returned to their home countries and collaborated on awareness-raising campaigns, detailed in the following section.
Young people from Plan International’s Youth in Action Project, funded by the European Union, related their experiences traveling to Ghana and collaborating on public awareness campaigns in their respective countries.
“We share the same dreams but [youth in Ghana] have a long way to meet theirs. In Ghana, I met Elizabeth. I felt that we were so much alike. She is a good friend. She had so much to tell me about her situation. In Ghana, she had no job, no regular place to stay. Youth unemployment has its consequences, like prostitution. Young girls are exposed to dangers. For those that had jobs, how is it really to work for twelve hours a day with no rights, vulnerability, and no future?” – Ms. Kamila Meisingset, Youth in Action Project, Norway
“Participating in international youth projects is challenging. From the beginning, we had different ideas because we are different youth from different countries with different views.” – Ms. Lisa Grooteman, Youth in Action Project (The Netherlands). Ms. Groteman gave the example of cartoons created by youth from Ghana and the Netherlands to demonstrate young people’s diverse perspectives and approaches to publicizing issues related to youth unemployment.
“On the positive side, people do want to listen to youth. Organizations want to involve young people in debate. They find youth refreshing. One important message we have learned: youth participation takes time. We need to set boundaries but leave it open to them.” – Martien Swart, Manager, Plan Netherlands
“Trust us.” – Ms. Grete Kelpsaite, Youth in Action Project, Lithuania, responding to the question, “How can older adults improve communication and support young people?”