Good local governance champion Synergeia Foundation, Inc. is on a mission to empower community members especially women and youth to actively participate in policy formulation and implementation in their local governments. With focus on Mindanao, the project called Breaking Ascent of Violent Extremism for Youth or “BRAVE for the New Generation ” was funded by Global Center on Cooperative Security (GCCS). Working to achieve lasting security by advancing inclusive, human rights–based policies, partnerships, and practices to address the root causes of violent extremism, GCCS partnered with Syneregia to promote community involvement which supports women and youth empowerment, good governance and trust among citizens and their government. Together with stakeholders, they will build capacities of local youth leaders and youth in communities to be active agents of peace.
The role of youth in building long lasting peace
In a recent Report of the United Nations Secretary-General on Youth, Peace, and Security, two key findings were (1) There is a growing recognition of young people’s essential role in peace and security. It is encouraging to see many instances in which Governments, United Nations entities, civil society actors and others are stepping up to implement resolution 2250 (2015); and (2) Core challenges remain, including structural barriers limiting the participation of young people and their capacity to influence decision-making; violations of their human rights; and insufficient investment in facilitating their inclusion and empowerment.
BRAVE for the New Generation will create a space for the youth to interact with peers from the same age groups where their ideas will be valued and respected. This will give them greater freedom in sharing their ideas without inhibition. Arts, culture and heritage will be the vehicles in which mobilization, empowerment, and capacity building will be delivered so the youth can express their ideas, insights, dreams and aspirations for peace.
The project believes that an appreciation of cultural diversity can foster fairer, inclusive and pluralistic societies and that an understanding of their heritage can strengthen a sense of identity and desire of the young to protect their communities by resisting attempts on violence. Activities such as painting, music and dance will resonate with the theme that people matter and it is the responsibility of everyone to ensure that their families and friends live in peaceful and safe communities.
Sangguniang Kabataan crucial in local governance
One critical political element is the Sangguniang Kabataan or SK. Created through the Philippine Law Republic Act 7160 in 1992 to mobilize youth participation in governance, the SK can engage, empower and propel the youth in nation-building.
Composed of eight young residents aged 15 to 21 years old who are elected in every village, it is envisioned that the SK can harness the potential of youth to actively participate in the prevention of violent extremism, become leaders for bringing peace and positive change in their communities. The project looks at them as an important organizational foundation upon which this partnership will leverage capacity building for the youth through the use of arts, culture and heritage to demonstrate their ideals and perspectives in how sustainable peace can be achieved in their communities.
A festival that boosts the youth’s strengths
With themes about education for all, justice for all, good governance, unity in diversity, and good citizenry, SK leaders and youth members will be able to express their individual and collective strengths, adding value to community peace-building through drawing, photography, poetry, short films using cell phones, memes, and indigenous music.
Art will be the starting point for trainings and workshops on initiating and supporting programs on peace building, preventing violent extremism, and, promoting good governance. SK’s advocacies reflected on artworks will be springboard to developing action programs which every village can implement. With Synergeia’s help, these will be brought to municipal governments and barangay leaders for support in setting up a mechanism to mentor and monitor the SK in program implementation.
Communities unite for peace
Communities in Southern Philippines embrace the BRAVE for the New Generation. They are Balindong, Kapatagan, Marantao, Piagapo, Saguiaran, Taraka, Upi, Mangudadatu, Buldon, Cagayan de Oro, Jolo and Marawi. The project aims that the positive impacts to these communities will help influence, shape and revolutionize this movement for making each person a piece for peace and elevate the youth sector’s participation in nation-building.
“We express our deepest gratitude to our partners, our mayors and our communities for embarking on a mission with us to help make each of our youth a piece for peace. This endeavor is made more meaningful with the cooperation of our beloved youth, the Sangguniang Kabataan leaders and members. Indeed the future looks bright with our young generation working for sustainable peace in their respective localities,” said Dr. Milwida M. Guevara, President and Chief Executive Officer of Synergeia Foundation, Inc.