DIKSHA Celebrates the Launch of #LearningPlanet’s Youth Empowerment Circle

by | Apr 29, 2021 | Uncategorized

Hear from Paramita Banerjee, a black coffee drinking social activist who opted out of academics three decades ago to work with young people towards a world where every young voice counts. She has been working on gender and sexuality, HIV/AIDS, adolescent and youth development, and child rights since the late 1980s. Her expertise lies in research, capacity building, participatory evaluation, strategic planning, leadership development, community mobilization, and documentation. Her professional engagement with international and national social development organizations of repute has given her expertise and experience both width and depth. She is the Co-Founder and Chief Functionary of DIKSHA (Discovering Inner Knowledge & Sexual Health Awareness).

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What is your vision of youth empowerment? Why is it important to create a Youth Empowerment circle today?

I’m a social entrepreneur working to change the ecosystem where the adult world continuously denies young people’s autonomy and agency on the presumption that adults know better. Youth empowerment is an indispensable process to achieve that system change. I dream of a world that can provide young people with safe spaces to share their issues and concerns, dreams and aspirations, and make informed decisions about their lives. That’s my vision of youth empowerment – an ecosystem that allows children and youth to be the authors of their own life scripts.

A system change is impossible to achieve singly by any individual or organisation – no matter how powerful the individual is or how big and resourceful an organisation is. It needs partnerships and collaborations. That’s why we need a Youth Empowerment Circle NOW. Without powerful new visions from empowered youth, the SDGs will remain a pipe dream until much after the targeted year of 2030. We can’t delay that process any further than we already have.
What should be the priorities of this circle, in your view?

What should be the priorities of this circle, in your view?

Each one of the SDGs is important to work towards, and it is difficult to prioritise some over others. Even then, SDGs 3, 4, 5, and 10 should be the priorities for youth empowerment since empowerment itself would be truncated without these. However, I’d like to spell out in this context that in my thinking, to achieve SDG 3 there needs to be freedom from hunger and poverty.

What are some ideal outcomes of the Circle?

  • Strong regional Youth Empowerment Circles consisting of youth-led and youth-focused organisations to identify barriers to youth empowerment in different geographies – ensuring that the most marginalised voices are captured. These should be connected with the global circle, of course.
  • Developing regional action plans to address these barriers and implementation processes (roadmaps with clearly defined milestones).
  • Ensuring that these action plans inform youth-related policies and programmes of national governments – through advocacy and lobbying.
  • Build systems of government accountability from at national, regional, and global levels.
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