Personal, Professional and Political Growth at the Global Youth Forum

By Pauline Musoke from the YWCA of UK

I am sat on the flight on my way back to the UK, it is snowing, and I am filled with a warm, humble feeling inside having experienced what has been one of the best events of my personal, political, professional, and other reasons starting with the letter P, in my life. Indeed, the Global Youth Forum 2012 was a international platform to get scholars, ministers, but most importantly youth to come together for three days of hard work that involved a great deal of thinking, sharing and debating.

Pauline Musoke

Pauline Musoke

We addressed a wide range of issues within the five main themes (Staying Healthy, Comprehensive Education, Promoting Transition to Decent Work, Families, Youth Rights and Well-being, including sexuality, Leadership and Meaningful Youth Participation). This allowed us to work and think along vertical and horizontal lines, in what was a short amount of time that required one to maintain focused and efficient. One of the challenges that was repeatedly raised and was undermining youth’s right across all of the main themes was (negative) cultural practises, stigma, taboos, financial problems and lack of sustainability.

One of my personal highlights was working with the issue of ‘sexual rights’ and recognising that it ought to be a human right. I was very impressed with the ways in which the different groups addressed this matter. Not only were there direct references to already existing definitions of sexual rights but we identified gaps and filled them with additional categories that were missing and was important to us as youths – I was delighted to see that most of the participants were on the same page and how this was captured in the language of the final recommendation.

Throughout the course of the forum I was frequently reminded by my colleagues and the huge screen in the main hall projecting the words, ‘young people account for 43% of the world’. This meant that we, as young people, are major stakeholders in the process of development in the world. This made me feel like I mattered and made us feel empowered. In addition, the participants that took part virtually was like the wind propelling us forward through the drowsiness from the jetlag and reminded us all that we are speaking out for people who needed to see these political, cultural, environmental and financial changes.

Lucky, joyful and privileged are some more of the words that describe how I feel now that the forum has come to an end. To have heard the different stories, some of which are closer to home and others not, but all making me engage in self-reflection. Furthermore, it was lovely to have the support from my YWCA colleges and it was pleasure to have made friends with people from different corners of the world. My hat goes off to UNFPA, ICPD, volunteers and other groups of people involved in the different technicalities of organising such an event. Great efforts was made into making sure that we enjoyed ourselves as we managed to squeeze in a bit of dancing and absorb some of Indonesia’s wonderful culture in to the conference centre.

I hope that you join me together with other youth to continue to work with the issues raised in the Global Youth Forum in your YWCA centres or become active on Beyond 2015 website to influence the global development framework.