Developing youth capacity on participatory citizenship and human rights

News
10 December 2014
Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

After the military coup of April 2012, all the socio-economic indicators of Guinea Bissau experienced a setback. Strikes in crucial sectors such as education, health care and transportation paralyzed the country. During the annual retreat of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Guinea Bissau in May 2013, UN Volunteers decided to plan some activities to contribute - through volunteerism - to the improvement of the situation in the country, weakened by yet another disruption to the democratic cycle.

UN Volunteer Laura Amadori (left), and a volunteer of the National Volunteer Committee, Judith Correia, during a training of trainers on gender equality. (UNV, 2013)

After the military coup of April 2012, all the socio-economic indicators of Guinea Bissau experienced a setback. Strikes in crucial sectors such as education, health care and transportation paralyzed the country. More than two months of strikes were registered in 2013 in all the schools of Guinea Bissau.

During the annual retreat of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in Guinea Bissau in May 2013, UN Volunteers decided to plan some activities to contribute - through volunteerism - to the improvement of the situation in the country, weakened by yet another disruption to the democratic cycle.

Education was seen as a crucial sector, especially in the lead-up to the democratic elections expected to take place in 2014. This was the reason that UN Volunteers decided to organize a training of trainers for volunteers of the National Volunteer Committee (a network of civil society organizations), international organizations and the Institute of Youth. The idea was for these trainers to then train youth at three major high schools in Bissau on relevant topics concerning democracy and human rights.

UN Volunteer Junko Nakai, UNV Environmental Specialist with UNDP, designed a training module on environmental issues, while UN Volunteer Laura Amadori, UNV Program Officer, prepared modules on human rights, gender equality, participatory citizenship and non-violent communication.

In December 2013, different session of training of trainers were organized by the two UN Volunteers with the local volunteers of the National Volunteer Committee. From December 2013 to March 2014, four volunteers were able to replicate the trainings on the five different topics to 79 students (40 girls and 39 boys) at three high schools.

Eurizia Augusto Fonseca, a 22-year-old student, explained that sometimes it’s difficult to address gender issues in the family, but that she was able to influence the activities carried out in the summer camp she participated in in July 2014. She encouraged participation of boys in cooking tasks, as well as discussions and reflection on women’s issues and political participation. She mentioned being proud that the new Government appointed women in four key Ministries - Health Care, Education, Defence, Family and Social Solidarity, and Justice.

Domingos Carlos Antonio, a 20-year-old student, said that the training sessions had prompted him to reflect, for the first time, on the power that people have in a democracy, and on the distinction between direct democracy, participative democracy and representative democracy.