As the IFRC, we are strongly committed to promoting a global culture of respect for diversity, non-violence and social inclusion. Strategy 2020 clearly underscores the RC/RC role to change mindsets, attitudes and behaviour.
Bekele Geleta, IFRC Secretary General, highlights: “it is often said that young people are the future of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, but I feel that is only part of the story. Young people are the Movement’s driving force here and now, and are the world’s best hope for real and lasting behavioural change at the community level and beyond.”
In the Declaration Together for Humanity, adopted at the 30th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, 186 RC/RC National Societies, the IFRC, ICRC and all States Parties to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, agreed on the key role youth have to play and the need to empower them to do so.
Since April 2008, the IFRC’s Principles and Values Department has thus initiatied and conducted, in collaboration with the IFRC Youth Commission, the Youth focal point of the Organisational Development Department and a network of youth leaders from 46 National Societies, a worldwide programme called “Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change”(YABC).
This initiative seeks to empower youth worldwide to take up a leadership role in positively influencing mindsets, attitudes and behaviours in their local communities towards a culture of respect for diversity, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion, equality and peace.
It is anchored in the Fundamental Principles and underpinning Humanitarian Values of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (RCRCM), and is aligned with the IFRC Strategy 2020 – Strategic Aim 3 focusing on the promotion of social inclusion and a culture of non-violence and peace.
Within YABC, promoting non-discrimination, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion and a culture of non-violence starts with a prior commitment to inner change or to "be the change you want to see in the world", following Mahatma Ghandi's vision as revoiced in the 2009 Youth Declaration.
YABC exclusively relies on peer education. It uses an unconventional non-cognitive learning methodology taking youth on a journey "from the heart to the mind", which means that through role-plays, simulations, games and visualisation exercises, youth first explore their feelings and emotions in light of their personal experiences, before moving with their peers to an intellectual analysis and understanding.
YABC equips young people with the necessary skills to inspire behavioural change, such as empathy, active listening, critical thinking, non-judgement, mediation, non-violent communication and peaceful resolution of tensions. To do so, a draft P&V skills-based toolkit has been shaped by, for and with youth, and contains the following modules:
• Part 1. The seven Fundamental Principles and their underpinning Humanitarian Values: (i) Humanity, (ii) Impartiality, (iii) Neutrality, (iv) Independence, (v) Voluntary Service, (vi) Unity, (vii) Universality
• Part 2. Behavioural skills: (i) active listening, (ii) empathy, (iii) critical thinking, non-judgement and dropping bias, (iv) non-violent communication and peaceful resolution of tensions, (v) mediation and Reconciliation, (vi) operating from inner peace and harmony.
• Part 3. Thematic issues: (i) non-discrimination and respect for diversity, (ii) intercultural dialogue, (iii) social inclusion, (iv) a culture of non-violence and peace, (v) gender (promotion of gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence)
• Part 4. Artistic platforms for social mobilisation (to be developed in 2011): (i) music, (ii) theatre, (iii) dance, (iv) visual arts, (v) sports, (vi) internal arts.
The draft YABC toolkit also furthers mainstreaming of “P&V” topics into other RC/RC areas of work. As such, it covers discrimination and stigmatisation against PLHIV, migrants, elderly; resisting peer pressure on substance and alcohol abuse; managing stress; enhancing resilience and self-empowerment.
It has been successfully pilot-tested in Solferino (June 2009) by 20 YABC peer educators, reaching 250 youth. Since then, multi-cultural teams of YABC peer educators presented the initiative, field-tested the draft materials during international, regional, national or local gatherings, and/or engaged in practical projects of social mobilisation.
To date, 46 National Societies have been actively involved in the YABC project, including Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Egypt, Finland, France, Ghana, Honduras, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Mali, Macedonia, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, Panama, Palestine, Peru, Philippines, Serbia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Togo, Thailand, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Uganda, Uruguay, U.S.A and Yemen, as well as the Centre for the Cooperation in the Mediterranean.