Communities around the world have been increasingly mobilising to challenge historic and systemic forms of oppression – putting themselves on the frontlines of protests, working in their communities, and taking these conversations online. People are demanding institutions to be more responsive to their rights, challenging the status quo, and responding to the increase in hate and violence.
Young people are at the centre of these movements – working to ensure safe communities and a protected environment for themselves and for future generations. However, contrary to traditional ways of working, young activists in the 21st century are organising themselves in ways that are decentralised, informal, and radical. Increasingly, young activists do not align themselves with the traditional structures of civil society. From the pro-democracy protests, to climate strikers, to the #MeToo movement online, we are witnessing an era of mass mobilisation against long standing injustices.
What is the Lab?
The Youth Action Lab is a one year co-creation lab for grassroots youth activists based in the global south which works to support their movements to become more resilient and sustainable in their pursuit of a more sustainable and equitable world. The Lab is an innovative, safe, active, inclusive, collective, representative and connected space, online and physical for grassroots activists, which thoughtfully considers diverse contexts and ecosystems to better resource them to flourish with their communities. Participants in the Lab work to build political solidarity and networks, strengthen capacities in engaging with policy processes, and access resources to support their movement. The Lab will act as a hub for testing new ways of working within civil society and mobilizing learnings from across sectors in support of youth-led movements.
CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, entered in a three-year partnership with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) to try to answer how can we mobilize our networks, knowledge and experience to better resource movements and strengthen new generation change-makers in the Global South.
With the aim of not only identifying a new resourcing mechanism, but also defining new working modalities between civil society and social movements, this lab was developed through a participatory process. In July 2019, CIVICUS Youth recruited a regionally diverse team of youth advocates and activists to co-design and implement a one-year pilot program focused on supporting 10 youth activists from around the world. During a weeklong co-creation meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa in September 2019, the team designed a test pilot, which is now the Youth Action Lab.