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The Future of Youth and Their Empowerment in ICA and its Regional Youth Networks and Committees. Where does the ICA Asia and Pacific region stand?
Written by Ahsan Ali Thakur (ICYC Chairperson), 2020-01-21 09:23:14
Deeping the involvement of and with young people to grow the cooperative movement is a pressing need, that is aptly reflected in the new Draft Strategy of the ICA for 2020-30 (A People Centred Path for a Second Cooperative Decade 2020-2030). The addition of youth in the new draft strategy shows that in the coming decade, youth would be a priority subject for ICA.
For a very long time, the ICA has been working to promote youth participation and empowerment in cooperatives through encouraging the collectivisation of their voices and actions at regional levels, in the form of regional youth networks and committees (ICA has either a youth network or committee in all its regions, that is, in Asia and Pacific; Africa, Europe; and the Americas). Besides this, it has always encouraged deliberation and discussions on the issue of youth involvement and empowerment through various platforms such as its General Assembly in 2007, Singapore. The other occasion is when the ICA-Asia and Pacific Committee on Youth Cooperation (ICYC) participated in the World Conference on Youth organised by the United Nations with the support of Sri Lankan government in 2014. In 2017, for the first time in Kuala Lumpur, as the youth representatives in the ICA regional networks and committees, we elected our own President. This action gave us the legitimacy to design and implement an ambitious plan that included: a mapping of youth cooperatives and the first Cooperative Global Youth Forum, fully dedicated to and designed by youth. This action plan will end with the General Assembly in Seoul in 2020.
As youth representatives, we had it upon ourselves to leave a clear path of collaboration and hand-in-hand work with the ICA Global for the next force of young leaders. Previously, we have had many Youth Declarations, but now, we felt, that it is time to ‘walk the talk.’ Hence, in 2019 during the ICA General Assembly in Kigali, the Global Youth Network of ICA came up with a Resolution. A Resolution that speaks louder than words!
In the Resolution, we urged the ICA members from 95 countries to join their voices with ours. We urged them to support the Resolution with their vote, and, together, ask the Board of the ICA to review the bylaws, articles and budget regarding youth for a more efficient, more self-determined and better working collaboration.
To our pleasure, the Resolution was unanimously
passed in the Kigali General Assembly along with a standing ovation and support
from the ICA President Mr. Ariel Guarco, followed by everyone in the august gathering.
The main points of the Resolution are as follows:
Harmonizing the position of regional youth network and committees across all ICA regions
a. Call for regional level support to the regional level youth representatives.
b. Call for the empowerment of the regional level youth network/committee.
c. Inclusion of a youth representative in the ICA regional board and allowing her/him voting rights. (This is already in practice in Africa and the Americas). (This point stems from an understanding that the youth should be granted autonomy and self-determination to best serve the ICA purpose. Therefore, in order to be empowered and fully own such as position in the ICA structure, it is important to advocate for youth inclusion in the regional board with a right to vote).
Youth action plan in the ICA global strategy
a. Call for reinforcing the youth network/committees by including
the youth action plan in the ICA global strategy with an allocated budget for
the implementation of such a plan.
Support youth participation
a. Support the youth representatives with resources to be able to attend the official international ICA events and assuring a once a year ‘in-person’ meeting of the regional youth network/committees.
Develop the global youth network
a. Develop the Global Youth Network by making it more accessible, using more inclusive tools and bylaws to foster participation of more youth. For example, the inclusion of technology and its best use in the governance of the youth network.
Unfortunately, the motion to allow the youth representative in the ICA Asia and Pacific board to have voting rights was not passed, which stands contradictory to the above. This is a step that could potentially take us ten years backwards in our strife to collectivise young people’s voices at the regional level. The ICYC was formed in 2006 and since then, it has actively promoted the identity of youth in the larger parlance of cooperative discussions and engagements in the region. We sincerely hope that our efforts of the past ten years will not go in vain and that the ICA Asia and Pacific Board will consider the Resolution that was passed in Kigali. We also hope that at the regional level, we continue to get support from our seniors and that our identity, voice and actions are given weight in the years to come.