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29 March 2024 - News

Fostering Exchanges Between Youth and Local/National Actors

For over a decade, Save the Children Kosova/o has led several initiatives aimed at civil society strengthening and child and youth civic engagement. One of our key ambitions is to capture the needs of adolescents and youth in our current and future interventions, by working closely with them and learning through their first-hand experiences in community engagement and activism at the local level. This week, we hosted the event “Cross-sectorial Approach to Empowering the Next Generation.”

During the event, the Kosovo National Office (NO) consulted young people from a range of backgrounds about their concerns in the youth sector. The young people exchanged views with duty–bearers in the youth sector and with each other. By adopting a comprehensive approach, and by facilitating an open and inclusive dialogue on challenges and potential solutions within this sector, the findings of this consultation will inform NO’s Country Strategic Plan (2025-2027).

As a thought leader and convener for civil society organizations (CSOs) to deliver on the challenges and opportunities within the country’s and regional civic spaces, our National Office in Kosovo invited Dorotea Deshishku, Political Advisor at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports in Kosovo, Dashurije Ahmeti, Head of the Youth Sector in the Municipality of Ferizaj, Fleta Mujaj, Member of the Board of SCiK, Vullnet Gusia from Youth Innovation Center Peja, Jehona Gjurgjeala, Executive Director of TOKA, and Hera Luma, ROR Mentor, and Advocacy and Programme Manager at ATRC, in a panel discussion with young people from Mitrovica North, Ferizaj, Gracanica, Prishtina and other municipalities.

Over 30 participants had a chance to engage in an interactive discussion with the panel, representing a wide array of stakeholders, including informal youth and child-led groups hosted by NGO Domovik, Ipko Foundation, Centre for Equality and Liberty of the LGBT community in Kosova (CEL), European Union Office in Kosovo, Embassy of Sweden in Kosovo, NGO HANDIKOS, NGO Putevima Sunce, and other civil society representatives.

The interactive discussion revealed that:

  • Kosovo for the first time has drafted a State Strategy for Youth 2024-2032, which has a cross-sectoral approach and includes the seven ministries responsible for drafting youth policies in their sectors (health, education, employment, economy, local government, foreign affairs, and culture, youth, sport).
  • The Law 03/L-145 on Empowerment and Participation of Youth and its five by-laws provide opportunities to support informal groups, either in financial terms or capacity building. Recognized as essential actors within the youth sector, these groups are uniquely positioned to engage with grassroots issues and mobilize for change effectively.
  • The local level is closer to the youth and has more information about the problems on the ground. Co-designing activities with young people is very important for the municipality.
  • The significance of civic activism among young people cannot be overstated. Beyond mere participation, it fosters a deeper understanding of societal dynamics and instills a sense of responsibility for collective progress. Informal gatherings serve as fertile ground for personal, professional, and social development, offering avenues for interaction and advocacy on causes of importance to youth.
  • Addressing prevalent concerns within the youth sector, mental health emerges as a pressing issue, with calls for expanded programmes targeting anxiety, bullying, and social isolation. Similarly, there is a recognized need for enhanced career orientation initiatives to better equip young people for the future.
  • Crucially, the design of youth programmes must reflect the evolving preferences and priorities of contemporary youth. Traditional approaches may no longer be enough to engage youth effectively, calling for more inclusive and comprehensive strategies.

Moving forward it is crucial for Kosovo to continue fostering an environment that empowers its youth to actively participate in shaping their futures. This entails not only the implementation of the State Strategy for Youth 2024-2032 but also ongoing evaluation and adaptation to address emerging challenges and opportunities.

Moreover, investing in youth-led initiatives and creating platforms for meaningful youth engagement and participation should be prioritized. By amplifying youth voices and providing avenues for their involvement in decision-making processes, Kosovo can foster a culture of inclusivity and ownership among its young population.

Partnerships with civil society organizations, educational institutions, and the private sector can enhance the effectiveness and reach of youth programmes. Collaboration across sectors and stakeholders will be instrumental in ensuring comprehensive support for the holistic development of Kosovo's youth.

In addition, continuous research and data collection are essential for informed policymaking and programme design. By adapting to the evolving needs and aspirations of youth, Kosovo can tailor its interventions to maximize impact and relevance.

Ultimately, the success of Kosovo's youth policies hinges on sustained commitment and action at all levels of governance. By prioritizing youth empowerment and investing in their potential, Kosovo can pave the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for generations to come.