Youth LEAD Board and Stakeholder Meetings in Kathmandu, Nepal
Youth LEAD holds its Board and Stakeholder Meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal!
After two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, Youth LEAD organized its first face-to-face Board and Stakeholder Meeting on 21-22 April 2022 in Kathmandu, Nepal. With all participants meeting minimum COVID-19 safety requirements, the two days of meetings were much-needed opportunities to discuss in depth both the future of Youth LEAD and the important groundwork that young key populations (YKPs) in Nepal need.
On 21 April, the Youth LEAD Secretariat and Board Members started the International Board Meeting for 2022 by discussing the development of the upcoming Partnership Management Handbook. The Handbook will be an important institutional document which outlines Youth LEAD’s policies for initiating, maintaining, and evaluating partnerships. The Handbook thus plays a crucial role in Youth LEAD’s sustainability and future partnership engagements.
Youth LEAD also formally introduced its new Communications and Project Officer, Leo Villar (he/they), to International Board Members. Leo has been a former consultant with Youth LEAD who has also worked with various organizations including UN agencies, regional networks, and civil society organizations. Leo has developed expertise in a wide variety of issues including youth, HIV, LGBTQI+ rights, women’s empowerment, international migration, and labour rights. In this background, Leo brings valuable experience beyond youth and HIV issues as Youth LEAD continues to grow. We are very happy to have him!
Beyond these developments, the Youth LEAD Secretariat and Board Members also discussed organizational sustainability goals and innovative strategies to manage Youth LEAD focal points across Asia and the Pacific. Youth LEAD also discussed preparations for the upcoming Board Elections – further information will be detailed in the future, so stay tuned!
On 22 April, Youth LEAD welcomed national stakeholders from Nepal for a Stakeholder Meeting to learn and discuss about Meaningful Youth Engagement, especially in the context of Nepal’s country coordinating mechanism (CCM).
YKP LEAD Nepal was invited to share about their experiences and the challenges they face in raising youth voices and engaging the CCM. As a recently formed youth network, only formally registered in 2021, YKP LEAD Nepal encountered obstacles in being recognized by the CCM and other decision-making bodies and organizations. Some of these challenges include limited institutional support for young people to become part of decision-making bodies, a culture of bias against letting young people speak for themselves, and in some cases, the tokenistic inclusion of young people.
Despite these challenges, however, YKP LEAD Nepal is already taking the initiative to increase YKP’s access to essential services. One of these initiatives is the development of the first harm reduction guideline for young people who use drugs in Nepal. Through the Global Fund’s Community, Rights and Gender Strategic Initiative (CRG-SI) grant, YKP LEAD Nepal is also implementing a harm reduction programme based on their harm reduction guideline. The network has also conducted outreach and social media activities to provide information on HIV and COVID-19, as well as COVID-19 emergency kits for YKPs in different districts throughout Nepal.
To give an idea of how meaningful youth engagement looks like in other regions and countries, youth representatives from Y+ Global and the Malaysian CCM presented case studies from which YKP LEAD Nepal and other national stakeholders may draw inspiration from. Both presenters emphasized the importance of capacity building for young people to engage the CCM and developing good relationships with government ministries and other CCM members as key strategies to practice meaningful youth engagement for the Nepal CCM. Presenters also highlighted the importance of non-tokenistic inclusion young people in decision-making bodies, such as the CCM, and having adequate support and reporting mechanisms to ensure that young people are more resilient against power tripping and dynamics within these spaces. Other national stakeholders also raised the value of data-driven and evidence-based advocacy to ensure that youth voices are heard and taken seriously by the Nepalese Government and the CCM.
Moving forward, much work remains to be done in Nepal to ensure that YKPs are not only represented in decision-making bodies, but are also meaningfully engaged in the development and implementation of programme interventions. Youth LEAD remains committed to support YKP organizations and networks, such as YKP LEAD Nepal, in advocating for meaningful youth engagement in Nepal.