I've just returned from a week in the Solomon Islands. As part of a grants assessment team for the Queen's Young Leaders Programme I had the enormous privilege to visit some amazing organisations and meet many inspirational people that are doing some desperately needed work in that region where the scars and ravages of conflict are still very evident.
One organisation our team visited was called Halydaisies. Situated in on the outskirts of Honiara, this amazing group of young women formed out of the necessity they saw in providing young women with an outlet to have their voices heard in their local communities. With gender violence being a major issue in the region, Halydaisies faced huge opposition - vocally and physically - to its formation. This opposition continues, but Halydaisies has been rather successful in changing the minds of local elders and community leaders and showing them that there is nothing wrong with women being able to hold their own opinions and to take ownership of their own communities.
Another organisation, Youth@Work, is currently the only group in the country that is undertaking work to tackle the massive 80% youth unemployment problem. With help from the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Y@W puts 500 people each year through training sessions that teach them how to create CVs and bank accounts, run workshops on teamwork and resilience building, and provide financial skills sessions. At the end of the programme, Y@W provides opportunities for those young people to be placed into meaningful work and internships. Currently 35-40% of those young people are offered permanent places in those businesses, with others going on to other work.
While visiting a Y@W meeting of 250 of their programme participants at the former Commonwealth Youth Programme building, I was struck by the enormity of the problems faced by young Solomon Islanders - rampant unemployment, a fundamentally flawed education system, a public who has a very negative perception of young people, and, ultimately, a massive cohort of young people who have minimal opportunities for personal and professional advancement.
After gaining a much-needed insight into the problems facing the Pacific, I am hopeful with the connections CYNZ has in the region we will be able to actively collaborate with some of these groups and find ways that we can create mutually beneficial relationships, and also to gain a greater context in which those people live and work.
This week is Youth Week, and I am looking forward to attending some amazing events. On Thursday in Wellington, CYNZ is hosting a panel of former and current youth councillors to discuss the work that youth councils do, the structures they operate in, and the challenges that they face.
I hope you enjoy all that the rest of this month and June has in store for you.
Aaron Hape Executive Director
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand
CYNZ event: Youth Councils - Empowering or Tokenistic?
To celebrate Youth Week 2015, we're holding a special panel to discuss the effectiveness of Youth Councils in New Zealand.
Come and hear from current Hutt City Youth Councillor, Alex Bengree, former Wellington City Youth Councillor, Ben Ogilvie, Wellington City Youth Councillor, Bing Lou, and Wellington City Councillor, Simon Woolf.
They'll take a look at the kinds of work youth councils do in engaging young people in local government issues; how those bodies influence decision-making; and comment on the Commonwealth's push for stronger national and local youth bodies.
WHEN: 6pm to 7pm, Thursday, 28 May 2015 WHERE: Parliament Buildings, Wellington
We are delighted to announce that the young Kiwis listed above have been named as Associate Fellows of the Royal Commonwealth Society for their dedication to Commonwealth values.
Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network 2015
The Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) forum opened on 13th May 2015 and ran for five days. This was the first-ever Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network conference and was held in the lead up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta this November.
The Royal Commonwealth Society convened young experts on a range of gender issues from over 20 countries in Malta for the forum. The network released its statement of priorities and recommendations for the Commonwealth at the close of the forum, which can be see here: The Gender Agenda: Youth Perspectives from Across the Commonwealth.
Submissions open for Census 2018
Want to have your say on New Zealand's biggest survey? Submissions are now open to contribute to what you would like to see in the 2018 Census. Cultural demographics, gender identification statistics or religious affiliation are just a few of the discussions which are currently open for submission. To view the discussions and to make your contribution please click here.