Volunteering and youth activism at CIVICUS
16 August 2007
by Nthabeleng Kgamphe, Youth Volunteer at CIVICUS and Youth Delegate to the 2007 CIVICUS Youth Assembly

In May 2007, CIVICUS organised its first ever Youth Assembly in Glasgow to engage youth on topics pertaining to Accountability to Future Generations. Along with four other South African youth delegates, I participated in the Youth Assembly with youth representing 90 countries around the world.

While my interest in CIVICIS was peaked during the various Assembly workshops, I felt that more could have been done to inform the youth delegates about CIVICUS’ work and the role that youth could play in the organisation.  Inspired by the dynamic group of youth delegates, I decided to approach CIVICUS about the possibility of volunteering during my vacation from the University of Cape Town where I am currently a final year student of Public Policy Administration, Politics and Law.  My motivation for volunteering on a membership outreach project to youth delegates was rooted in the Youth Assembly’s plea for greater recognition of youth at future World Assemblies. This was coupled by my strong belief that with greater representation in CIVICUS, youth will have the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in the organisation.   

The youth membership outreach initiative was undertaken with the hope of creating a platform from which young people from all over the world may collectively confront the challenges they are faced with.  A document created by the 2007 Youth Delegates, A Call for Intergenerational Collaboration – Make Change Happen, made clear that no matter where in the world, youth concerns are very much alike. To advance the role of youth in fostering positive change, 130 invitations were sent out to the 2007 Youth Assembly Delegates, each of whom is actively involved within their own civil societies. I felt this was a necessary first step for amplifying the voice of concerned youth activists in CIVICUS and within international civil society as a whole. My personal vision is to see an evolution in the role of young people whereby our voices are strengthened and our concerns acknowledged by the older generations, since it is the young people of today who will be the future leaders and care takers of this world.

Thus far, I have received many enthusiastic and positive responses from the youth delegates.  In situations where membership was not viable, youth recipients offered to spread the word or provide contact information of local youth NGO’S that might be interested in CIVICUS membership. This support demonstrates that youth around the world are ready and willing to become more involved in CIVICUS’ work and that they believe they have something unique and important to offer to civil society.  

While my time at CIVICUS as a youth volunteer was short-lived, I believe the potential of a dynamic youth involvement within CIVICUS has been awoken and I am confident that it will reach new heights with the aid of interested NGO’s and other young people. I would strongly encourage members of youth organisations and young people everywhere who share in this vision to join as members in strengthening this worth while and promising initiative. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked on issues of youth involvement and activism in CIVICUS and hope that my outreach project will help foster greater intergenerational respect, dialogue and engagement throughout CIVICUS membership, making the change most needed in civil societies.  

If you are, or know of any organisations or individuals interested in aiding this youth initiative through CIVICUS membership, please contact the membership department at membership@civicus.org, who will gladly provide you with CIVICUS information and application forms.  Also, I encourage e-CIVICUS readers to share this resource with youth and youth organisations and to support opportunities for youth within your organisations as part of a larger effort to foster greater intergenerational exchange in civil society.   

For more information on CIVICUS, please visit www.civicus.org.

This page can found at: http://www.worldvolunteerweb.org/news-views/volunteer-stories/doc/volunteering-and-youth-activism.html