2021 in retrospect: How Youth Power thrived in Restless Development hubs

2021 taught us that young people are resilient, active and responsive to challenges. Youth Power is acting globally to build a better world with leadership that cares about innovative solutions and a sustainable future. 

Braving through these unprecedented and challenging times, Restless Development hubs have kept Youth Power at the forefront of their projects, programmes and initiatives globally. We are led by nine Hubs across the world and work with young people and partners in 51 countries. Our Hubs not only deliver projects but offer expertise, support and innovation for young people and partners.

Here are the 2021 highlights from our hubs:

India

Despite a challenging year, Restless Development India worked with 45,875 young people to lead change.

Our MTV Nishedh programme supported 8850 students between the ages of 16-24 in three districts of Rajasthan: Jaipur, Alwar, and Udaipur to develop their leadership skills. Similarly, one of the hub’s civil society projects brought about concrete change by creating networks for young people to share knowledge and access services around their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

During the peak of the second wave of covid, young leaders and staff were able to mobilise and provide relief kits to people living in urban slums in Delhi. 312 families were directly supported through these efforts.

Our STEM for Girls programme in Odisha was able to use tech to send awareness messages to local community members to keep them safe from covid.

In Munger, Bihar our India Hub was able to help 726 girls to re-enrol in schools once the schools reopened after lockdown.

Tuk Tuk used to raise awareness as part of the Back to School Street Campaign in Munger, Bihar reaching 5000+ households 

The power to bring a change in our lives lies within all of us. We only need to recognise it.”

Sangeeta , Participant, STEM for Girls

In 2022, our India Hub will be expanding our work in climate justice, with the start of our Youth Climate Action Lab in Bangalore to help young people take action on climate change.

Nepal

The major highlight for Restless Development Nepal in 2021 was our Youth-Led Research project, “Youth Specific Livelihood Impacts and Responses to COVID-19” conducted in partnership with the University of Cambridge, with support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). 

The research worked with young researchers to investigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on youth livelihoods, and can help guide the design recovery efforts that include and work for the needs of young people.

Members of our Youth Take The Lead (YTL) project worked with other volunteers in Tanzania and India to organise a global dialogue on why mental health matters for young people, particularly during the pandemic.

Being a YTL Volunteer has provided me with a plethora of opportunities for learning. I’m ecstatic because the more you learn, the more you want to learn.”

Gopal Thapa, Youth Take the Lead Volunteer, Nepal

Volunteers also organised Psychosocial Training for the teachers of Arunodaya Higher Secondary School and Seti Devi Secondary School to help them support young people’s mental health during the pandemic.

Tanzania

In 2021, Restless Development Tanzania was recognized by the community for its work and dedication and was awarded the Tanzania Emerging Youth Award.

Restless Development Tanzania also received the outstanding citizen engagement award for its contribution to development policies and practice at the Civil Society Organisation Excellence Awards. 

Another highlight was a dialogue event to discuss the importance of youth volunteerism and encourage more young people to become volunteers.

I never expected to be recognised. However, through volunteering, I have gained a lot of recommendations to different opportunities.”

Hawa, Participant of the Dialogue Event, Tanzania
Young people leading a session at our event on Importance of Youth Volunteerism

Another highlight event of the year for Restless Development Tanzania was the Annual Alumni event that brought its volunteer alumni and other potential partners together to contribute their learnings and experience to strengthen their leadership potentials.

Uganda 

One of the main highlights from the Uganda Hub in 2021 was the Development Alternative project, which trained young people (pictured in this blog’s featured image) to monitor development programmes and work with develop organisations and communities to fix problems.

This youth-led, tech-enabled, community engagement approach saw young leaders engage a total of 1,823 young people and community members to identify 167 problems in livelihoods programmes delivered by both Government and selected Civil Society Organizations. The project helped create 119 solutions to problems they found.

Restless Development Uganda is also part of the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Alliance Uganda, supporting young girls and women (aged 10-24) to access sexual gender-based violence justice.

SGBV programme conducted by Restless Development Uganda

The project specifically works toward enhancing and addressing gaps in awareness, reporting, case management, legal aid, and linking people to related services required for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors in the targeted districts of Tororo, Butaleja, and Busia.

USA

In 2021, Restless Development USA, with the help of dozens of feminist activists around the world, created and launched Feminist Action Lab, an online advocacy crash course to support youth-led action on gender equality. 

The Lab complements the major Action Coalition themes from the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) including Climate Justice, Economic Justice, Feminist Movements, Bodily Autonomy & SRHR, Feminist Technology, Gender-Based Violence and an additional study guide on new modes of Feminist Advocacy and movements.

It features video dialogues between older and younger feminists on the history of the Beijing+25 process and study guides that unpack some of the big ideas informing global feminist agendas today. 

Restless Development USA launched the Restless Leadership Challenge, a 6-week challenge to cultivate positive change in yourself, your community, and the world. Each week we shared a 5-minute video from an innovative Restless Leader. The leadership challenge heard from activists, advocacy professionals, and Restless champions with a focus on leadership style, support to communities, and making real, tangible change in the world. 

Zimbabwe

Restless Development Zimbabwe piloted an exciting initiative on Climate Change in 2021, which provided an opportunity for young people to exercise youth leadership on preventing and adapting to climate change in their communities.

The hub’s Peak Youth Tackling HIV project managed to bridge the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information gap, bring SRHR services (HIV Testing Service, cervical cancer screening, Sexually Transmitted Infections screening, Family Planning) as well as create demand for SRHR services in peri-urban settlements of Harare where they are no health institutions.

Young women and girls accessing family planning information and services at an SRHR mobile outreach

The GenEndIt Youth Ambassadors program recruited 15 Youth Ambassadors across the globe who are leading HIV responses. Young people from Zimbabwe also participated in global platforms like COP26, the UN’s climate summit; and International World AIDS Day commemorations.

Knowing that we as ordinary citizens and young people can voice out our suggestions and lived experiences on climate change is definitely a step in the right direction. My hope is that in future, we will work hard to have more inclusion and shift the current patterns.

Namandla (Eyecourt, Harare) 

In 2022, Restless Development Zimbabwe will continue to develop, design and implement projects to contribute to the transformation of young people’s lives.

Feature Photo by Anthony Michael Mwami

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2021 in retrospect: How Youth Power thrived in Restless Development hubs

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