• In the spotlight

    January 26, 2016

    Member Spotlight: Fatou Bintou Sallah

    1.    What first got you interested in youth issues?

    Growing up as a female in Africa, where boundaries and restriction are laid either clearly or impliedly on what a woman can do or say, and to what extent she can go to achieve her dreams, I knew I had to make a difference. I got interested because I wanted to make a change in my society, continent, and world at large especially in the lives of women and children. The tool that was at my disposal was advocacy on issues that often times were swept under the carpet, such issues like low levels of girls education, early marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), domestic violence and abuse amongst others. I felt that if we the youths come together with a stance on these issues, it will make all the difference. Because recently the government of The Gambia imposed a ban on FGM, an ancient practice that had been a norm for generations immemorial

    2.    Groups & Activities you are involved in

    1. i.              Think Young Women- Assistant Secretary General

    TYW actively addresses issues affecting young women by building their leadership skills by implementing trainings and seminars, and strengthening their voices to create more impact and support to achieve women’s rights. TYW has also provided the space to empower and uplift young women to be able to speak out against issues affecting them such as Violence against Women, most importantly FGM. Most notable of our activities is the organizing of a National Youth Forum on FGM every year where youths from all over the Gambia and all relevant stake holders convene to discuss and brainstorm on ways forward for issues affecting young women and girls; to which at the end, a communiqué is developed to be submitted to the government of The Gambia. Other activities include showing solidarity with other young women around the world who have their rights violated, one such activity was the Bring Back Our Girls Campaign in solidarity with our sisters in Nigeria. Additionally, another tool we constantly use is the media; radios and tv but most importantly social media where a lot of impact has been made.

     ii.            Give 1 Project- Executive Secretary

    The GIVE1 Project is a global non-profit, voluntary and development oriented organization that aims to engage young people as leaders in creating and building strong and healthy communities. Some of the activities include a monthly Give1 talk where specific guests are invited to talk to the young people on a variety of topics that are meant to help in molding their lives. -Quarterly tech-camps for girls in high schools where they are training on computer software and hardware which is geared to encourage young girls to venture into technology fields which is a male dominated field considering the number of women involved in this part of the world. – We also run a farm in one of the rural villages to encourage people to grow what they eat and inculcate the spirit of entrepreneurship in the youths.

    3.    Situation in my Country

    Both organizations namely Give1 Project and Think Young Women address some of the pertinent issues in my country. Currently, there are laws in place protecting children and young women but there is a huge divide in sensitization as in people do not know that there are provisions that protect them from violation and abuse and so the status quo of domestic violence, early marriage and so on continues. TYW comes in by doing mass sensitization on people’s protected rights and the avenues to use to obtain redress in the event a right is violated.

    Give1 Project’s main aim is to reduce the incidence of unemployment amongst recent graduates which is a major problem globally but a growing trend in the country by encouraging entrepreneurship through trainings and seminars and motivating the youths especially girls to venture into different careers that youths usually shy away from.

    4.    Policy or law reform

    That there is stricter enforcement of existing legislation especially in relation to the most vulnerable groups in society who often times are voiceless and cannot stand up for themselves.

    5.    Favourite quote and why?

    “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” – Aristotle

    Because I am a die-hard fan of the rule of law and I believe that all men are equal regardless of social status, race or creed and should be treated as such. And indeed law and justice is a necessary element in society, otherwise mankind may easily fall into anarchy.


  • In the spotlight

    January 20, 2016

    Apply Now! Leadership Board Elections!

    The World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD) is a network that aims to support the development of sustainable democracy movements by empowering the next generation of democracy activists. WYMD provides a space for young activists to build relationships with each other, to collaborate across borders, to deepen their knowledge on key issues, and to develop practical skills.  We will be holding our biannual elections for the Leadership Board. We are looking for 2 members (one male, one female) from each region (Sub-Saharan Africa; Asia; Europe & Eurasia; Latin America & the Caribbean; and Middle East & North Africa). If you are an enthusiastic and dynamic leader, we urge you to submit your application and participate in the election.


    Leadership Board Roles

    • Carry out activities to achieve strategic objectives
    • Facilitate local and regional activities for World Youth Day for Democracy
    • Contribute to WYMD Blog Post
    • Participate in Leadership Board meetings
    • Build regional allies for WYMD collaboration
    • Increase visibility of WYMD Network
    • Social media and offline outreach

    Candidate Eligibility

    All candidates must be 30 years or younger in 2016, and be registered members of the WYMD website. Candidates must demonstrate a strong interest in human rights activism, and in the advancement of democracy in their respective communities, as well as worldwide. Youth affiliated with civil society organizations are especially encouraged to apply.


    All candidates must meet the eligibility criteria and submit the application to wymd@yihr.org by February 15, 2016. Application must include:

    • Application Form
    • Endorsements
    • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • One Photo (for Public Profile)
    • Two Letters of Support

    Once candidates are confirmed, they may begin campaigning on the WYMD website and social media platforms. Voting will take place online, on the WYMD website, from March 5 to March 9, 2016.  The new Leadership Board will be announced on March 10, 2016.


    • January 15 – Application Opens
    • February 15 – Application Deadline
    • February 20 – Announcement of Candidates/Campaigning Begins
    • March 5 – Voting Begins
    • March 9 – Voting Ends
    • March 10 – Announcement of New Leadership Board

    Please direct all questions to wymd@yihr.org or our Twitter at @wymd using the hashtag #WYMDelects2016.


  • In the spotlight

    December 1, 2015

    Our Fall 2015 Hurford Youth Fellow lectures at UVA


    Fall 2015 Hurford Youth Fellow Makoi Popioco gave a lecture at the University of Virginia (UVA) on November 19.


    Popioco talked about the current status of the recovery responses for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the world’s strongest typhoon, which affected central Philippines in 2013. He also discussed the media’s role in disaster management in the Philippines. He was joined by students taking courses on International Humanitarian Assistance and Media Studies.

    Popioco is a young Filipino journalist who has done extensive reporting on disasters that have affected the Philippines in recent years. He is currently co-founding a new media campaign that will investigate and map data on corruption and human rights abuses in the Philippines.


    On the same day, the World Movement for Democracy also conducted a film showing for their Civic Space Initiative. The event, titled Faces of Activism, was co-sponsored by the Presidential Precinct, the Democracy Network, and the International Relations Organization.

    Senior Manager Ryota Jonen introduced the screening for short films “Girl Child” and “I am not Alone” by challenging students to think about how they can be involved in political and social change in their own communities.

    Girl Child documents the story of Glanis Changachirere, a women’s rights defender, who grew up in a small village in politically and economically troubled Zimbabwe. I Was Not Alone tells the story of Pakistani activist Fouzia Saeed. She formed the Alliance Against Sexual Harassment at workplace (AASHA), which pushed for the passage of a landmark legislation for the protection of women’s rights in Pakistan.

    Following the screenings, students formed small groups to reflect on the films and how they could apply lessons learned to their own work and interests.

  • In the spotlight

    November 16, 2015


    This report is originally published on Center for International Media Assitance’s blog.


    The Philippines is Asia’s first democracy. A country where freedom of expression and of the press are constitutional rights.

    Although the Philippines is not a war-torn country, with 77 journalists killed in the last 20 years, it is the world’s third-deadliest country for journalists, behind Iraq and Syria, and worse than even Russia. Such a baffling paradox for a democratic country.

    Worst attack against journalists

    This month marked the start of the filing of Certificate of Candidacy for next year’s national elections in the Philippines. A time reminiscent of a horrendous incident six years ago when 32 defenseless journalists were massacred.

    In November 2009, Esmael Mangudadatu, gubernatorial candidate from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, sent a convoy that included his wife, lawyers, and some relatives to file his certificate of candidacy in Sultan Kudarat. Journalists joined them to cover the story.

    The convoy was stopped at a hilltop in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao by more than a hundred armed men. All 57 people, including the 32 journalists, in the convoy were brutally killed. Some were beheaded, and the women were reportedly raped. A state-owned backhoe was used to bury bullet-riddled corpses, in an attempt to clean up the crime scene.

    The rival political clan of Ampatuans was believed to have plotted the ambush. The clan’s patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. was the incumbent governor. His son, Andal Jr, was running against Mangudadatu at the time. Both were declared prime suspects.

    The carnage in Maguindanao was the most horrific election-related violence in the history of the Philippines, and also the world’s worst-recorded attack against journalists.

    Flawed Democracy

    The Maguindanao massacre changed the landscape of freedom of the press in the Philippines. It also exposed the many flaws in Philippine democracy, which become even more evident during elections.

    In the Philippines, especially in the rural regions, local governments are disguised feudal systems. Political families have been ruling towns and provinces for decades. Government seats are their family’s heirloom. The government’s money is their clan’s wealth.

    These political families splurge on luxury while the greater population suffers poverty.

    Local journalists who investigate and expose corruption in the government suffer a wide range of harassment. Worse yet, many of the hard-hitting journalists were killed.

    Culture of impunity

    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 68 of the 77 murder cases of Filipino journalists remain unresolved. Those reporting on politics and corruption accounted forthe highest number of death.

    For years, perpetrators of crimes against journalists enjoy shameful impunity in the Philippines.

    In the six years that have passed since the Maguindanao massacre, none of the more than 100 suspects has been convicted. A number of witnesses and loved ones of the victims were bribed into silence. Several witnesses were killed.

    One of the witnesses, Dennis Sakal, a former driver of Andal Ampatuan Jr, was killed in an attack on his way to meet a prosecutor in November last year.

    The prosecution is inching its way through the Philippine judicial system. To date, the case is still in the bail petitions phase. Families of the victims and civil society organizations have continually criticized the government for the slow process of justice.

    Several families of the murdered journalists reported threats and intimidation. Many were also suffering financially, as most of those killed were breadwinners.

    In March, Sajid Islam Ampatuan, one of the suspects, also son of Andal Sr., was ordered temporarily release after posting a  whopping PHP11.6-million ($250,000) bail. Now, he is back in politics, running for mayor of town Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao. Sajid Islam is running against his cousin and sister-in-law.

    Andal Ampatuan Sr. died of a heart attack in July, asserting his innocence until he slipped into a coma, according to his lawyer.

    Despite the massive outrage, Ampatuans still enjoy high positions of power.

    Getting away with murder

    Philippine media is among the most progressive in the world. Backed up by a nation known as a social media powerhouse, the media in the Philippines is also among the most innovative.

    Despite all this, it is baffling that Filipino journalists remain among the most vulnerable to threats and violence.

    A close analysis of these murders reveals that most of those killed are working in rural regions. This also exposes the gap between the national media and the community-based media in the Philippines.  A system where the national media, especially the celebrity presenters, are much glamorized, popular, and highly paid, while those working in rural communities are paid less but subjected to more threats and violence, and have marginalized access to training and other opportunities.

    The combination of a very slow justice system, poor forensic technology, and a predominantly feudal system of local governments equates to an alarming culture of impunity–where for perpetrators of crimes against journalists, getting away with murder is child’s play.


    Makoi Popioco is a journalist and the current Hurford Youth Fellow with the World Movement for Democracy at the National Endowment for Democracy

  • In the spotlight

    October 20, 2015

    Corruption In Disasters


    In a rare opportunity, three remarkable youth activists, from countries affected by the world’s worst disasters in recent years, discuss corruption  in disaster responses.

    Their stories show the disturbing realities currently happening in disaster locations in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, in the Philippines after the 2013 Super Typhoon Haiyan, and in Myanmar after this year’s massive flooding.

    Despite the billions of dollars of aid received, thousands of disaster victims remain homeless. Humanitarian aid, if not outright stolen, is ineffectively disbursed or questionably liquidated. Displaced victims ultimately suffer a wide range of human rights abuses.

    Paneled by Haitian social activist Louino Robillard, Burmese youth leader Saw Htet Aung, and Filipino journalist and World Youth Movement for Democracy Hurford Youth Fellow Makoi Popioco, this documentary is a call for justice for all marginalized victims of disasters, internally displaced people, and refugees all around the world.

    Help us get people talking about corruption in disaster responses! Share this on your social media accounts.

    Do you also have a similar experience as the panelists? Let us know your stories too! Interact with us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • In the spotlight

    July 1, 2015

    WYMD supports the World Movement's #Set Them Free Campaign

    Find out more about how you can #help set them free




  • In the spotlight

    February 11, 2015

    Iniciando conversaciones sobre Latinoamerica y el Caribe


    latinoamericaParecer ser una realidad para todos que la situación de los Derechos Humanos en Latinoamérica es un tema que amerita atención y mucho trabajo en estos dias. La represión, la intimidación y el intento de supresión de derechos como la libertad de expresión, el derecho de asamblea o de asociación, el derecho a protestar o a pensar distinto (disentir) están en el ojo del huracán desde unos meses en nuestros países latinoamericanos.

    Esto por un lado ha impulsado a muchos más jóvenes a trabajar por lograr el respeto de las libertades y establecimiento de mejores condiciones en sus distintas naciones,  muchos más jóvenes nos hemos involucrado con temas políticos, con activismo y organizaciones de sociedad civil. Aunque por temas que no suelen ser positivos, esas situaciones adversas han estado sacando un lado positivo de nuestras sociedades: el espíritu de lucha democrática de muchos de sus jóvenes.

    Y el World Youth Movement for Democracy es un espacio que trabaja para apoyar estos liderazgos, por eso que queremos  fortalecer la presencia de temas relacionados a Latinoamérica y el Caribe en nuestros espacios digitales. Fomentar las publicaciones de noticias, oportunidades, reportes o consultas referentes a la región, y propiciar espacios para la interacción de la comunidad miembro del WYMD en torno a estos contenidos.

    Para iniciar estas publicaciones queremos conocer sus opiniones sobre el anuncio del restablecimiento de relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos, anunciado el pasado 17 de diciembre de 2014 por los gobernantes de ambas naciones.


    ¿Crees que esta es una nueva oportunidad para el activismo democrático en Cuba?

    ¿Crees que ahora habrá oportunidades para los jóvenes cubanos de tener acceso a las tecnologías y nuevas formas de comunicación?

    ¿Qué retos crees que implica esta medida para el activismo democrático de la isla y la región?

    ¿Cómo ves la gestión de libertad y amnistía para los presos políticos de la isla, tras este anuncio?

    ¿Cómo crees que influirá esta decisión en la cooperación democrática entre jóvenes de la región?

    Por favor comparte tus opiniones, esperamos sus comentarios. – ATNC

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