Who will represent the youth in the Advisory Council?

By Nina Meiling, European YWCAs Committee Board Member, YWCA of Netherlands


(Left to right: Heidi from YMCA, Sarah from WAGGGs and myself)

Earlier this year I went to the Council of Members meeting of the European Youth Forum in Brussels, as a representative of the European YWCAs. The ‘big thing’ during this meeting with the more than 100 Youth Organizations of Europe was the election of 20 youth representatives for the Advisory Council of the Council of Europe.

Next to the fact that it was wonderful to see everybody again that I met in November 2012, it was also a good opportunity to create new relationships, hear about all the opportunities for the YWCA within the Youth Forum, and to strengthen the knowledge of existence of the YWCA. (What? The YMCA? No, that’s another organization. I am from the young WOMENs Christian Organization).

Well… I have some fixing to do here!

However, so far I have established a good relationship with the other faith based organisations (like the YMCA, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts who are similar to the YWCA, the scouts, and a few other faith based organisations like the Jewish students and Ecumenical youth). We work together in preparation of the meetings of the Youth Forum and share our experiences and expertise. It is nice to have such a pool of experience at my disposal and a group of people to go to for advice. And apart from that they are wonderful people too!

Apart from choosing 13 representatives from the International Non-Governmental Organizations and 7 representatives from the National Youth Councils from all over Europe, I joined a discussion about youth employment and found out that the difficulties that exist in for instance the Netherlands (my home country) are really happening everywhere in Europe. A lot of young people are unemployed, have a hard time obtaining experience, and many companies are abusing the use of internships to avoid paying for the work of young people. The European Youth Forum has improved its policy paper on youth employment from 2008 in quite an impressive way, and it is available in case you are interested in it (there is much more at your disposal: think of papers on youth entrepreneurship, youth rights, vote at 16, non-formal education, structured dialogue, gender, etc)

I am very happy with the people that got selected for the Advisory Council! Among them are for instance the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGs) who will help the YWCA ensure that gender equality will be on the agenda, the YMCA who share the same values as the YWCA and other organisations that will make sure that the youth (both men and women) will be included in decision making.

Next time I want to take one young woman from a European YWCA member association to the Council of Members and/or the General Assembly to share the learning and the huge opportunities, and to increase our partnership with Youth Forum.