We make Democracy
Exchange Meeting: We make Democracy! Youth for participation and inclusion 15– 20. September 2019, Richterswil
A short introduction to the Exchange meeting We make democracy! (16.-19. September 2019
The Exchange Meeting We make democracy! brought together more than forty young people active in youth organizations in Switzerland, the Western Balkans and Moldova. It used non-formal education methods in order to train a diverse set of participants regarding concepts of inclusive youth work and the basics of project planning. The participants have exchanged their knowledge and best practices in a mutual leaning experience and have significantly strengthened their network.
Who was organizing We make democracy!?
The International Exchange Meeting was coordinated by the Swiss national Youth Council (SAJV-CSAJ and was prepared in an international consortium of partners including Youth Center Perspektiva (Albania), Institut za politični menedžment (Slovenia), Naša djeca Zenica (Bosnia and Hercegovina) and A different generation (Moldova). Together with the European Students’ Union, these founding partners provided experienced trainers for the meeting. The project was built on principles of horizontal cooperation and accordingly the project planning was carried out in a cooperative manner by partners on an equal footing.
In Switzerland, i-platform assured the work with the diaspora and okaj was involved as a partner linking to the local youth work. Further partners serving as country coordinators supporting applicants include KOM 18 (Serbia), Youth can (North Macedonia), United Youth Task Force (Kosovo) and NGO prima (Montenegro).
The Project was funded by Movetia, the Swiss Agency for Mobility and Exchange, and the “Citoyenneté” Programme of the Swiss Federal Commission of Migration.
Which were the overall aims and specific goals?
The project creating the Exchange Meeting is based on the assumption that both youth organisations and society as a whole can only benefit from its active members being as diverse as possible. It therefore aims for increased inclusiveness of youth organisations and democratic processes.
The Exchange Meeting tackled five specific goals:
· To improve the inclusiveness of youth organisations in Switzerland, the Western Balkans and Moldova
· To decrease prejudices against marginalized or underrepresented groups
· To create a peer-to-peer exchange space
· To strengthen the network of youth (diaspora) organisations in Switzerland, the Western Balkans and Moldova
· To set stable basics for sustainable cooperation
Which topics have been tackled by the activities?
The International Exchange Meeting lasted for four days, each containing a series of four workshops. The meeting has been structured in four blocks of one day, which were each dedicated to a main topic:
· The role of NGOs in building an inclusive Society: Getting to know each other as well as the participating organisations and mapping the existing barriers
· Youth facing barriers and their inclusion in youth work and NGO activities: Gain knowledge about mechanisms of exclusion and inclusion, find common definitions of basics of inclusive youth work
· The role of the diaspora in fostering inclusive youth work: Discussing intercultural youth work with guests experts, building up initial ideas for common projects in cooperation with support of the experts
· The future of cooperation: Systems of project structuring and presenting, application of newly gained knowledge and skills in the initial development of a team project
Which were the main outcomes of the Exchange meeting?
The Exchange Meeting through its methods, combination of participants and tools shared contributed to
· the increased participation of underrepresented groups in youth organisations
· the improvement of the inclusiveness of participating youth organisations and hereby the quality of youth work
· the strengthening of the youth NGOs’ networks
The individual participants raised their awareness of the role of NGOs in the development of democracy and in the strengthening of citizenship and gained knowledge about concepts of inclusion and anti-discriminatory youth work. The know-how on best practices providing an inclusive atmosphere in the field of youth work has been spread an improved and abilities to adapt content and methods to a local context in the field of youth work has been strengthened. Through the newly acquired tools for efficient and inclusive project management, an innovative spirit for developing NGOs was created.