Youth Civic Engagement is the central theme of this year’s International Youth Day, which is marked every year on 12 August. With an aim to promote young people’s effective inclusive civic engagement at all levels, Youth Civic Engagement is one of main goals of all UN agencies youth programmes and strategies, as well as the main goal of the United Nations System - Wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP).
In line with global and national youth agenda, the UN System in Montenegro[i] is implementing Joint UN Youth Programme, focused on two main thematic areas - youth employment and youth civic engagement (participation). The programme activities, such as youth campaign "I wish for myself:", support and motivate young people to recognise their capacities, dreams and goals, develop their skills, character traits and values and proactively work on realisation of their potentials and aspirations. Be it personal, professional or civic development and engagement, we support young people to learn and act with passion, competence and integrity and engage in creating the communities, lives and world they want. The Programme is implemented in partnership with Directorate for Youth and Sports and Ministry of Education and other institutions and organization working in the youth development field.
After the Phase I of the programme, marked by the "I wish for myself:" campaign, we join forces with national partner institutions, civil society, professionals, and first and foremost young people, to establish innovative models for youth development and youth policy work. From September, we are entering exciting period of new programmatic activities, which will provide collaborative, innovative space for all actors to work on challenges young people face.
In the meantime, we bring you voices of two young people who participated in the "I wish for myself:" campaign about their perspectives and ideas for this year’s #YouthDay topic – youth civic engagement. They told us how they benefited from participation in the campaign activities, but also voiced out what else they need for building up their capacities and achieving their and their peers’ aspirations.
PURSUING GUIDANCE AND SUPPORT
Ivana Zorić is a self-confident 17-year-old girl, who knows what she wants to achieve in life, but she needs support and guidance. She is growing up in Berane, a small town in northern Montenegro, the poorest region in the country which offers, according to her, almost no opportunity for the development of activism or entrepreneurial spirit in young people. She says that the majority of her peers choose going to cafes as the only option for leisure time after school.
“We mostly miss an opportunity to have someone to hear our problems, to hear what we want. And also to allow us to acquire some additional skills," Ivana says.
In her hometown, the Youth Council recently started operating, which Ivana sees as a rare opportunity for young people to be involved, to socialize, to develop joint activities or initiate an important issue for young people in the town.
She admits to have been awaken by motivational events and workshops within the “I wish for myself:” campaign, which took place in the summer of 2014. She was encouraged by what she heard from experiences of her peers coming from similar environments, and the ways in which they were overcoming obstacles all young people face.
She is eager to see continuatin of UN Youth Programme, since she wants that “driving force” to be passed on as many young people in Montenegro as possible. She thinks that even physical distance or financial obstacles can’t turn that energy off.
“We - young people - all need some kind of mentorship, we need someone to tell us when something isn’t good and to encourage us to move on. But, above all, we need someone to talk to", Ivana concluded.
DREAM BIG, THINK DIFFERENT
Dejan Rabren (16) wants to be politician and his ambitions are big. He does not allow his plans to be distracted by the fact he lives in a village near the town of Plužine, in the north-west of Montenegro. Every day, he travels seven kilometers to school, and in the place where he lives there is no peers whom he could spend his leisure time with and come up with joint activities. However, he believes it could be changed, considering that a bad financial situation in the municipality where he lives must not be an excuse for young people to fail showing initiative and desire to do something with their lives.
“We still need a space where we could gather, but also the workshops, courses and sports activities, something where we could improve our skills, to be better”, said Dejan with an obvious disapointment.
He believes that the establishment of a youth center would mean a lot for him personally and for all young people in his and surrounding villages. Dejan says that the fact he lives quite far away from the nearest town slows down the realization of some of his wishes and plans.
But his participation in the motivational events organised within the “I wish for myself:” campaign led him to think in a different way about his ambitions and to realize that he wants more.
After he finishes secondary school, he plans to study in a big city. But he also said that his insufficient knowledge of English disrupts his intentions to enroll in Faculty of political science and go that way.
"I would like to learn English perfectly, because I don’t want my education to be hampered by that," Dejan said.
To follow and get involved in the forthcoming Joint UN Youth Programme in Montenegro, follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as www.sebizelim.me website, where you can find information on plenty of amazing opportunities for young people.
To follow and join this year #YouthDay activities and discussion, visit the official website.