Key to Europe

By María Ballesteros Melero


“Peace requires everyone to be in the circle, each one to contribute to its wholeness, inclusion.” ~ I. Allende

Today is the International #PeaceDay, and this year we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The role of youth in promoting peace is essential nowadays and cannot be ignored.

From the 9th till the 15th of September, AEGEE / European Students’ Forum was in the 19th University on Youth and Development (UYD) in Mollina, Málaga, Spain.

The UYD is coordinated and facilitated by the North South Center of the Council of Europe i partnership with the Spanish Government (INJUVE), the European Youth Forum (YFJ), the Spanish Youth Council (CJE) and other international youth organisations. Its main objectives are to promote youth work and the global dimension of citizenship and education, empowering young people to become changemakers of their own societies and creating a global network.

This year’s main topic was “the role of young people in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies” within the framework of the SDG 16 Peace, justice and strong institutions. Around 200 young people from all over the world gathered to share, learn, develop themselves and become multipliers and ambassadors for a more peaceful and inclusive society.

As stated in this edition’s concept note, persistent forms of structural discrimination, combined with prejudice and stigma, negatively impact the prospects of social inclusion and well-being of vulnerable and/or young people from minority groups. Sexual orientation and gender identity, disabilities and mental health difficulties are additional factors of the vulnerability that affect youth in general. Within the UN SDG 16, the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development is an element that aims at involving young people in a multi-stakeholder engagement to prevent and counter-act discrimination, thus fostering intercultural dialogue in the spirit of the White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue.

Starting by ourselves.

Within this framework, AEGEE organised the training “Gender mainstreaming on Youth Associations”, part of the GENDERS project, that brought together 17 youth workers from all over Europe. In line with the UYD topic, our participants learned how to make their organisations more equal and inclusive in terms of gender, analysing (among others) their structures, activities, communication channels and HR cycle and working on an action plan to include the gender perspective at all levels.

Now, it’s time for all the participants to go back home and use the inspiration and energy from the UYD to work towards peaceful and inclusive societies.

“What happens in Mollina should not stay in Mollina”, Matjaž Gruden, Director of Democratic Participation, Council of Europe

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