In preparation for YES 2002, young people on every continent have organized YES Country Networks to focus attention on the issue of youth employment and to create a structure that will respond to the Summit’s call for a Global Campaign for Youth Employment.
YES Country Networks are led by groups of young people motivated to transform their communities. The organizing principle of a YES Network is to engage the major sectors of government, business, civil society, and international institutions in constructive dialogue. The Networks use a consensus-driven process to build bridges among multiple stakeholders—including both youth and government leaders.
The experiences and achievements of the YES Country Networks in Georgia and Senegal illustrate the progress that is being made, explains Khakha Nadiradze, an agricultural consultant and leader of the Georgian YES Country Network.
In late May 2002, a YES Country Network was launched in Tbilisi, Georgia, in the presence of more than 30 NGOs. Since its inception, the Network has focused on raising awareness of youth employment issues on a national level. One of the key outcomes of this first consultation was the realization that the National Policy Framework in Georgia did not pay much attention to young people. As a result, YES Georgia committed itself to developing policy recommendations to be presented to Georgia’s National Parliament.
There is a need in Georgia for laws and regulations that create better conditions for generating youth employment. Such laws work in many countries, and promoting youth employment in Georgia requires a stronger legal basis.
The Georgia YES Country Network is capable of identifying many problems for youth and crafting innovative responses. With this in mind, we are cooperating very closely with the Parliament of Georgia and the Ministry of Employment of Georgia to make the necessary systemic changes to promote youth employment.
In Senegal, a countrywide campaign for youth employment began in early 2002. Within months, the Network had organized its first YES National Consultation, scheduled for July 2002, and including the government of Senegal, youth organizations, and various other stakeholders. The YES Country Coordinator is an energetic young teacher named Cheikhou Thiome. Thiome recently wrote to YES about his personal motivations and his ambitions for his country:
My dedication to the Youth Employment Summit is explained by a lot of reasons. I live in a rural community where people are facing many kinds of difficulties. I have been involved in a community-based organization whose goal is to help people fight against poverty through a lot of initiatives, including income-generating activities for the community.
One of my main initiatives has been a community computer center that will allow youth of my community to embrace the new communication and information technologies [IT]. I have set up a telephone center in the village, which has allowed two young men to be hired, working part time. This project needs to be extended to a cyber computer center, and I think the Summit framework will allow me to meet partners who can help me find funding. The aim is to provide IT training for at least two young men from the village who haven’t had the opportunity to follow their studies. When they finish their training, they can serve as trainers for others.
I believe in the great contribution Senegalese youth can bring to the Youth Employment Summit. That’s why I don’t hesitate to sacrifice my time and energy to make their participation effective.
Originally published on January 1, 2003