Youth ChangeMakers: An idea can change the world"
SUMITA THAPAR - CNS
So said Sivananthi Thanenthiran, Executive Director of The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), echoing the famous words of American civil rights leader Robert Williams. She was speaking to the youth changemakers who gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at the three-day long Asia Youth Festival (19-21 September 2022) on innovation and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Over 70 young people from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Philippines, who are working for social change in their communities to improve gender justice and equality, are participating in this Youth Festival. Their main focus is on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Also at the festival are youth leaders working on the impact of climate change on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Visually impaired Yuvraj Lama, 25, runs a community project in Kathmandu, Nepal, serving 45 people with disability. He told CNS (Citizen News Service) that awareness on sexual and reproductive health and rights is extremely low, and disabled women face double marginalisation. To address this challenge Yuvraj has designed a social enterprise that trains women in pickle making and gives the disabled not only a chance to know about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, but also to become financially stable.
Right Here Right Now - ChangeMakers
ARROW launched its Right Here Right Now Changemakers initiative in 2020. Till to-date, more than 150 youth leaders from seven countries have been trained. And over 40 innovative projects have been supported through mentorships, incubation, and seed funding for implementing social change ideas using a design thinking methodology.
According to Sivananthi, the world has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic, and as donor funding for NGOs shrinks, it may be crucial for social initiatives to run like social enterprises.
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