Paul wrote to Timothy: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12 NKJV)
The 2018 ACT Assembly is a historic gathering as youth for the first time take a central role in the Assembly, and use this space to demand real and meaningful participation across the Alliance. As ACT youth have gathered in the days leading up to the Assembly we have had the possibility to reflect on our work and our participation in the Alliance. These reflections have led to a strengthened network of engaged and brilliant young people who work, in faith, for a better world. Further, it has led to an increased understanding of the importance of youth within the Alliance.
Youth under the age of 30 make up nearly half of the world’s population but our voice is often not heard. However, we already foster change at the local, national and global level through ACT, and in our own communities. By engaging youth, ACT has the opportunity to work with the next generation of world-changers and spread the message of the Alliance.
Youth are key actors in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, but in order to do so youth need to have a voice at the decision-making tables around the world. However, only 7% of the delegates at the Assembly are under 30, these represent half of the world population. Currently the ACT Alliance has no representatives under 30 in their governance board.
We, the ACT Youth are seeking equal and genuine participation in the Alliance, as well as concrete and consistent platforms to engage within ACT. It is vital to acknowledge young people as vibrant and important components of the Alliance. And it is critical to create space for youth involvement, at management, program and decision-making levels.
We therefore have the following suggestions for enhanced youth participation in ACT:
Youth delegates with speaking and voting rights should be a regular feature of the General Assembly to make sure that youth are heard within ACT. And to ensure access to decision-making, youth should have two representatives in the Governance Board. We ask that the Youth CoP is recognized as a Global Youth Forum which will elect these representatives.
Further, the Youth CoP should be a place to exchange best practices and knowledge. In order to do this we need platforms. We need funding for biannual Youth General Assemblies, one of which would happen prior to the ACT Assembly. In addition, ACT needs to create a substantive youth desk to be a liaison between the CoP and ACT to coordinate the work of youth within the life of ACT.
The Alliance should have youth included in Advisory Groups, Communities of Practice and the National and Regional Forums. Finally, all member organisations should employ young staff and engage young participants at trainings and meetings.
To sum up we call for:
- The youth CoP to be recognized as a Youth Global Forum
- Two seats in the governance board
- Youth to be included in all forums and advisory groups
- And a youth desk within ACT
The future belongs to the youth and thus we need to play a key role in the alliance today. We are #youthinaction
Download the full statement here.