Bringing youth together in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has around 46 million young people who have tremendous potential to contribute in the country’s social and economic development. Despite being the major target group these young people are lagging behind due to many issues. To begin tackling this problem, Youth For Change Bangladesh are working to create a national coalition of youth-led organisations, who will come together to advocate for the issues that are important to them.

“National Consultation on Bringing Youths Together”: The Journey Begins

Bangladesh coalition

on 31st January 2016 Youth For Change held their first coalition meeting at Plan International Bangladesh’s Offices, titled “National Consultation on Bringing Youths Together”.

The national consultation was arranged by Youth For Change with an aspiration to create a common platform for youth, by youth, so that they can express their demands and needs to fulfil their rights. The main objectives of this consultation were:

  • Learn and share the experiences and expectations of the youth from themselves
  • Discuss the feasibility of forming a youth coalition or common platform
  • Brainstorm ideas for the direction of future steps.

The participants in the first coalition meeting were: Youth Voice Foundation, UNFPA, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre (BYLC), World Vision, National Children Task Force (NCTF), ACTIVISTA, The Hunger Project, SERAC-Bangladesh and Youth For Change. Other honoured guests were representatives from VSO Bangladesh, Action Aid, Plan International Bangladesh, Plan International UK, DFID, World Vision, SNV Netherlands, The Hunger Project and Save the Children.

The chief aim of this meeting was to conceptualize the coalition and gather opinions on the usefulness of forming a coalition. After hours of discussion it was decided that a coalition was possible to be formed and the decisions regarding its forming will be taken in the later meetings.

The 2nd Meeting: Shaping Things Up!

The next meeting took place on the 2nd of May,2016 at PLAN-BCO. Representatives from Action Aid, BYLC, SERAC-Bangladesh, NCTF, VSO, The Hunger Project, Youth Alliance International, World Vision Bangladesh, UNFPA and Youth for Change’s Bangladesh panel participated in the meeting.

The agenda of this meeting was to discuss about the vision, mission, issues, challenges and expectations of the possible coalition. Decisions were made about the possible structure of the coalition (all reached a consensus on the coalition to be informal one with a formal structure), though such decisions were not finalized in the meeting, those were hoped to be set in the latter one.

The participators were divided into two groups, then asked to set their own sets of vision, missions, issues, challenges and expectations from the coalition. The members expressed their interests to work on issues such as gender discrimination, unemployment problem, eradication of superstitions from the society, sexual and reproductive health rights, sustainable environment, and gender based violence etc.

The members expected many things from the coalition, some of them are as follows: 

  1. A meaningful coalition with good networking among the members.
  2. The coalition performing as a hub for sharing initiatives.
  3. Mobilization of the resources.
  4. Mutual understanding.

Some challenges which the coalition might face also came up in the discussion. The members vowed to solve those challenges through mutual discussion and co-operation.

The 3rd Meeting: Geared Up and Ready To Roll!

As a part of the continuous steps towards forming the youth-led coalition that all cherished to see, another meeting, the third one, took place on 29 May 2016 in Dhaka. Organizational representatives and youth representatives from different organizations participated in the meeting. The organizations were- Youth For Change’s Bangladesh country panel, Serac-Bangladesh, World Vision, NCTF, Sight Savers, Youth Alliance International, SNV-Bangladesh and Leaping Boundaries. And these 8 organizations were set to become the partners of the coalition, with 1 or 2 more possible partners waiting to confirm their status.

As in the last two meeting it was unanimously agreed that the formation of the coalition was very much possible, the prime objective of this meeting was to formalize the coalition and begin to kick-start its activities. The participants took the initiative to propose some issues that the coalition might focus to work on.

Issues such as child marriage, gender based violence, corruption, sexual and reproductive health rights, security issues for the mass people, health and hygiene for all etc. went up through the opinions of the participants. But as the coalition has limitations, pragmatically it would not have been possible to work on all these issues at the same time. A vote was taken on which areas to prioritise, and three issues were selected for the coalition to work on - gender-based violence, child marriage and sexual & reproductive health & rights (SRHR).

There were some important decisions made in this meeting regarding the coalition. One of the decisions was this- the coalition will be consisting of the partner organizations who have expressed their interests and attended the meeting till now, the coalition will not seek for new partners till June 2017. Another decision taken was that the official launching of the coalition will be done as soon as possible, preferably in this July, immediately after Eid.

How will it work?

The participants felt that a committee was needed to administrate the works of the coalition. So the members decided to form a ‘Working Group’ of 4 members from 4 different organizations, of which 2 will be girls and 2 will be boys. The role of the working group will be to report the meetings, host the upcoming meetings, follow up the meetings and create an action plan, update the facebook page/group, and create a summary document of the coalition. The working group will be valid for 3 months, after which that committee will hand-over the responsibilities to the next committee which would be formed by the unanimous decision of the members of the coalition.

As from this thought, the first ‘working group’ of the coalition was formed. The current members of the working group are: Nizam (World Vision), Renaissance (NCTF), Sadia (SERAC-Bangladesh) and Shawon (Youth For Change).

Stay tuned for more news on the Youth For Change Bangladesh coalition launch!