On the occasion of International Volunteer Day, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has launched a report gathering findings, perceptions and recommendations on youth volunteerism in Arab states, as part of its regional project, Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future.
The report is the fruit of twelve months of field work, focus groups, questionnaires, desk reviews and national workshops carried out in 2012 in each of the projects target countries: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen.
For the first time, readers will have access to the needs and recommendations provided by representatives from local governments, civil society organizations, media outlets, the private sector and youth themselves, who were invited to deliberate on issues surrounding youth volunteerism in the region.
This report establishes the groundwork to respond to needs and motivations of volunteering in the Arab region, and helps us ensure that every step we take goes in the right direction to making youth volunteering a positive driver of change in the region, explains Richard Dictus, UNV Executive Coordinator.
The document, available online in English on the UNV website, summarizes five key issues that must be approached to make youth volunteerism a tangible, secure and active part of society in the region:
Knowledge leadership: There is a need to carve out a space for knowledge in the sphere of volunteerism. The lack of reliable data poses a serious challenge to sustaining and expanding volunteerism projects and initiatives.
Focusing on policy and bringing national recognition of volunteerism: The need to bring national recognition of the values of volunteerism was emphasized. The role of the state in regulating and expanding activities was considered critical to its expansion. A variety of ways were suggested: creating a regulatory framework, adopting a national strategy and/or issuing a national definition of volunteerism.
Consolidating a community of practice: Building the capacity of those engaged in volunteerism, in the basics of strategic planning, budgeting and management, can help create a strong community of practice.
Securing funding: The financing of volunteerism initiatives and the voluntary sector was underscored; basic resources are needed to initiate volunteer programmes or engage in voluntary activities.
An holistic approach to volunteerism: There is a need for an all-inclusive approach, in which all of the issues regarding volunteerism are addressed in parallel. This can be operated at the national level but can also benefit from a regional lens.
Recognizing these considerations and the need for a deeper understanding of youth volunteerism, the findings became the foundations of the UNV-led regional project called Arab Youth Volunteering for a Better Future. The project aims to bridge these gaps through the promotion of youth volunteering and capacity-building, thus acting as a channel towards helping youth to participate in the development processes of their countries. This initiative is part of UNVs growing efforts to engage young people and falls within its UN Youth Volunteers Programme.
It is my sincere hope that governments, UN entities, civil society and youth leaders will respond to the voices of youth in the Arab region, take note of the practical and achievable recommendations they are making, and do whatever we can to make them a reality, concludes Mr. Dictus. Read the report here
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.
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