World's largest youth organizations agree new strategic collaboration with the WHO to build a healthier, more equal and youth-led future
Geneva, 13 May 2022 - Today, CEOs and youth leaders from the Big 6 Youth Organizations met with leaders from the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the role of young people in leading COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and agree on a ground-breaking strategic partnership and collaboration of engaging young people in future health-related crises.
The partnership agreements signed by five of the Big six are designed to increase multilateral collaboration and put young people at the heart of decision making, whilst the IFRC will use its existing partnership to achieve this goal. This represents an important milestone in the successful collaboration between the Big 6, the WHO, and the Global Youth Mobilization (GYM), a movement of young people taking action to address the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to build back better.
Young people today face an unparalleled time of challenge. In addition to the direct health impacts exacerbated by the pandemic, young people continue to be disproportionately affected by disruptions to education, loss or lack of employment opportunities, domestic and gender-based violence, and mental health challenges.
The new strategic agreements build on the Global Youth Mobilization, a successful initiative launched at the end of 2020 and supported by WHO and the UN Foundation through the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. The Global Youth Mobilization enables the rapid disbursement of micro grants to tens of thousands of young people worldwide to help develop solutions to ensure their communities emerge from the pandemic stronger than before. Through the “Local Solutions”, young people are driving change and implementing solutions in response to COVID-19 by taking action through community-based interventions and voluntary services. The initiative is powering change at a national level too through the engagement and activation of Big 6national organizations across the world.
The collaboration between WHO and the Big Six Youth Organizations includes a focus on the areas of mental and physical health, health promotion, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and climate and health.
Commenting on the strategic collaboration, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said:
“WHO is proud to support the global movement to engage and empower young people as a driving force in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with the Big 6 and the United Nations Foundation has provided a unique opportunity to learn from millions of young people and be guided by their enthusiasm and ideas to help communities build back better.
What the Big 6 have achieved in a year through launching and implementing the Global Youth Mobilization is phenomenal and unparalleled in the youth development sector. We look forward to continuing our support through these new partnership agreements and encourage others to partner with the Big 6 and invest in the health and well-being of future generations.”
Anna Segall, CEO of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and Chair of the Global Youth Mobilization, said:
“We believe in young people’s agency and know that with the right support and opportunity they can imagine and lead the solutions to the global challenges we face today.
In coming together through the Global Youth Mobilization, the Big Six Youth Organisations have shown that by listening to young people and providing them with the space and resources to act, our organisations and young people can make a huge collective impact.
We look forward to continuing this vital work through our new strategic collaboration with the World Health Organization. By supporting young people to improve their mental and physical health, sexual and reproductive health and rights and tackle the impact of climate change we can work together to create a better, fairer future for all.”
Meti Gemechu, Youth Board Representative for the Global Youth Mobilization and World Young Women’s Christian Association, said:
"Through the Global Youth Mobilisation, we have proved that we are not the problem but in fact the solution to not just building back from the pandemic but building back better. With innovation, relentless energy and dedication to bettering our communities young people have led the response and recovery efforts. The Global Youth Mobilization is a critical actor in bringing together everyone for a future we want to be a part of."
During the three-day visit the Big 6 shared highlights and recommendations with multinational agencies, institutions, governments, policymakers and corporations to prioritise the needs of young people from the Global Youth Mobilization "Powering Change: Young People Leading the COVID-19 Response and Recovery” impact report.
To date the Global Youth Mobilization has already resulted in 200,000 young people actively engaged in addressing the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in their local communities. They have been at the forefront of the pandemic recovery, delivering over 260 projects to date in 77 countries and supporting 800,000 community beneficiaries.
For more information contact:
Sam Williams, Global Youth Mobilization, Project [email protected]
Paleni Amulungu, Global Youth Mobilization, Digital Communications, Partnerships and Advocacy [email protected]
Amjad Saleem, IFRC Inclusion, Protection and Engagement Manager [email protected]
Click here to learn more about the IFRC's work in engaging young people around the world.
Uniting through the power of football
Sport is a really powerful way of addressing youth isolation and exclusion and preventing violence. The IFRC has teamed up with the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy of Qatar 2022 – Generation Amazing on a unique and innovative project that unites young people through one of the most popular sports worldwide: football.
| Press release
“We need to do better” – IFRC report reveals gaps in child protection during climate related disasters
Kingston, Jamaica – November 19, 2021. Adolescents overwhelmingly feel that they do not have the information needed to be safe from potential violence, abuse, and exploitation in climate related disasters. This is one of the main findings of “We Need to Do Better: Climate Related Disasters, Child Protection and Localizing Action in the Caribbean,” a recent study conducted by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
The report has revealed that even though climate related disasters affect each person in the region, children are particularly at risk. They make up a large portion of the population of the Caribbean and are most vulnerable to encountering violence, abuse, and exploitation in disaster settings, while systems to protect them do not always work. The study also highlights that there are no specific laws in place to protect children from violence, abuse and exploitation when disasters happen.
Gurvinder Singh, IFRC’s Child Protection Senior Advisor and one of the authors of the report, said:
“While children potentially have great leadership and innovation capabilities, unfortunately, their voices are rarely being sought out or heard. Furthermore, there is a huge deficit in meaningful opportunities for children to be engaged in decisions that affect them. This is especially prominent in the stages of preparing for and responding to disasters. Adolescents believe that even if they do participate, their opinions may not be taken seriously by adults.”
By putting the voices, perspectives, and ideas of children at the forefront, the report seeks to understand the generally unexplored relationships between climate related disasters and children’s concerns around violence, abuse, exploitation, and mental health challenges. It also sends a warning to governments and civic organisations to play a more active role in the promotion of and respect for the rights of the child, especially with regards to the issue of child abuse and the need for urgent effective prevention programmes.
Ariel Kestens, IFRC’s Head of Delegation for the Dutch-and English-speaking Caribbean, said:
“It is critical that governments enhance domestic laws, invest in child protection systems, improve local coordination, train local responders, include protection and climate change in school curriculum, and collect sex-, age- and disability-disaggregated data in disaster responses. The IFRC Network across the Caribbean stands ready to support them to continue striving to meet the best interests of each child affected by more and more frequent, and destructive climate related disasters.”
The report also recommends practical actions for the humanitarian sector, such as designing child-friendly communications, implementing community feedback mechanisms, including child protection in anticipatory action, integrating child protection across preparedness, assessments and planning, and creating spaces for children and adults to engage, support one another and find viable solutions to protection risks.
The study was based on discussions and an online survey with 198 adolescents ages 14-17 years in the Bahamas, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago; interviews with 30 adults from different disaster and child protection agencies, and background research. It is part of the campaign “We Need to Do Better” by the IFRC to enhance protection of children in climate related disasters.
The full report may be accessed here. The adolescent summary of the report is available here.
For more information, please contact:
In Jamaica: Trevesa DaSilva | +876 818-8575 | [email protected]
In Panama: Susana Arroyo Barrantes | + 506 8416 1771 | [email protected]
Our aim is that young people around the world do more, do better and reach further—all while contributing to safe and resilient communities. To reach this goal, we believe that young people need to be fully and meaningfully involved in our programmes and governance.
Inclusion, protection and engagement
At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), we believe that diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act. Through all of our work, we aim to protect and promote a positive change for humanity, based on our humanitarian values and Fundamental Principles.
Young volunteers step up in Europe
By Ainhoa Larrea, IFRC
They are young, they are almost a million strong, and they are leading the humanitarian response against COVID-19 in Europe.
More than 850,000 young volunteers of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies across Europe are making a difference for millions of people affected by the pandemic, despite being increasingly affected as the Delta variant spreads.
Many are becoming sick and being hospitalised, as the young are often the last to be vaccinated. In addition, they are disproportionately impacted by the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic, from unemployment to mental health problems. However, they are still stepping up to help.
Daria Tkachenko, a university student, is volunteering with Russian Red Cross in her free time. She visits older people who cannot leave their homes, delivering medicines and groceries.
“I remember well one of the women. She was a home front worker during World War II and served as a volunteer at a local branch of Russian Red Cross for years. She is a very active woman who always shines with optimism and joy; even now, when she is bedridden,” Daria said.
“Living in isolation amid the pandemic is a big challenge for many older people, and not only for them, but also for relatives who cannot help their loved ones. That is why volunteering is so important.”
She is also helping replenish low blood stocks. “Hospitals are in need of blood donors and blood components. I am proud that I donated blood, which in the future may save someone's life.”
Ludovica, a 27-year-old psychologist, spent last Christmas on one of the Italian Red Cross boats where those arriving in Italy by sea undergo mandatory isolation and COVID-19 testing. She provided critical mental health support to migrant and refugee children.
“During the time I was on board, there were 51 children mostly from North Africa and the Middle East. I organised educational and recreational activities with them: Italian language, card games, dance.
“I had to carry out most of the activities at a distance, behind a desk. The most valuable moments were those when I was close to the children. I would then play the role of the white wizard, as the safety protocol obliged me to dress in a white jumpsuit, mask, gloves, goggles, cap and boot covers,” Ludovica said.
Scientific evidence shows vaccination saves lives, but some young people are still unsure whether to get a jab or not. The Red Cross Red Crescent European Youth Network is playing its part with a joint social media campaign with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Participants encourage their peers to get immunised, sharing that the main side effect of COVID-19 vaccines is “a feeling of hope and solidarity.”
Other young people are directly involved in vaccination roll-outs. Srna Spasojevic, 15 years old, is one of the youngest volunteers of the Red Cross of Serbia. Every working day, from eight in the morning until 6pm, she updates the lists of those waiting to get immunised in the Novi Sad Fair.
“Sometimes you realise, when you are having a hard time, that there are others who are going through even worse. I am happy to be able to contribute to our country’s battle against the coronavirus,” Srna said.
There are many more young role models among the 54 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Europe, each one helping to protect communities and to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.
| Press release
Pacific: Young people encouraged to join the fight against the pandemic
Suva, 12 August 2021 – As global preparations take place this week to mark the celebration of International Youth Day, young people in the Pacific are urged to follow the example of Red Cross volunteers and join the battle against COVID-19, as the global pandemic continues to have significant health, social and economic impacts in all countries across the region.
The call comes after more than 700 young people recently participated in a Youth Forum as part of the second Pacific Resilience Meeting, which highlighted the critical role they have been playing – leading action on climate change, responding to disasters and thinking through a green, low-carbon recovery from COVID-19.
While young people are often referred to as the leaders of tomorrow, Fiji Red Cross volunteers are demonstrating the capacity young people have to lead right now, when given the opportunity. Fiji is experiencing extremely high levels of community transmission of COVID-19 cases, as the Delta variant of the virus continues to spread across the country. Young people make up 75 per cent of all Fiji Red Cross volunteers, working alongside the Ministry of Health on activities such as the vaccination roll out.
Young people are leading the way on the COVID-19 response, with vaccination registrations, data entry and most importantly, helping to tackle vaccine hesitancy and the spread of misinformation about the virus. On International Youth Day, Pacific Red Cross National Societies are recognising the dedication and hard work of youth volunteers within and outside the Red Cross.
Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said:
“We celebrate the remarkable contribution of young people in the Pacific as they play an integral role in making our communities stronger and safer. Young people are leading the way, using their diversity and energy to get targeted messages around community safety and resilience heard in every corner of the Pacific and beyond.
We continue to strongly advocate for the recognition of the critical roles played by young people in shaping our future in the Pacific; working together to tackle the growing threats from climate change and disasters. We strongly urge that young people are given the space, the platforms and the resources to lead from the front on issues such as COVID-19, green recovery and community resilience.”
Every year, International Youth Day is held on 12 August. This year’s theme is, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, with the aim of highlighting that young people are critical to achieve success of such global efforts.
To mark this event, five Pacific Red Cross Societies from the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Fiji will celebrate the day through a number of activities such as online quiz competitions, wellness campaigns, and planting food crops. Tonga Red Cross will also be launching a National Youth Policy as part of their event.
Katie Greenwood, IFRC’s Pacific Head of Delegation, said:
“We know that everyone will celebrate International Youth Day in their own special way, and it is very pleasing to see our Pacific nations showcasing this event despite the challenges we face. It is definitely worth celebrating the hard work of our young people- many of whom will be doing what they do every day- leading from the front.”
IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies working to save lives and promote dignity around the world.
Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change
Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC) is the IFRC’s long-standing programmethat helps people around the world promote a culture of non-violence and peace in their communities.
Celebrating the contribution of young people in the Pacific
In recognition of the invaluable contribution young people make in their communities, seven Pacific Red Cross Societies are marking International Youth Day today with a range of events and celebrations.
Globally, around half of the 14 million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are young people, and this is also true in the Pacific. Young people are already acting as leaders, first responders, innovators, activists, and changemakers, bringing much-needed skills and knowledge to their work in support of those who are most vulnerable.
Despite this, young people are often the least likely to have a strong voice in times of crisis, especially when it comes to formal decision-making institutions and mechanisms.
International Youth Day is held every year on 12 August (today). This year the day will highlight the ways in which young people are enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as highlight lessons that can be learned on enhancing their engagement and representation in formal institutional politics.
Kathryn Clarkson, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Suva, Fiji said: “Young people are at the heart of our Red Cross Societies, and the Pacific youth networks are an exciting forum to witness the strong voice that our Pacific youth have, tackling challenges such as climate change. It’s awe-inspiring to see the passion and dedication these young people have in building a strong and resilient Pacific Island network, while honouring their culture and heritage. The IFRC is a strong advocate of young people in the Pacific, and we support the youth-hub under the Pacific Resilience Partnership.”
Red Cross National Societies in the Pacific create strong youth networks that empower young people to have a voice, make a difference and connect with their communities. They play a powerful role inreaching young, marginalised or vulnerable groups, promoting health and care and preparing communities to respond to disasters.
Pacific Red Cross Societies, including Kiribati, Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu, are collaborating with local organisations and governments to build awareness about the role of youth in global action.
Ms Clarkson said: “The theme of International Youth Day this year is‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’. In the Pacific, this translates to a core focus onclimate change and COVID-19. The role of youth in the Red Cross, and in our communities, cannot be underestimated, and it’s great to have a day to celebrate them. Across the Pacific Island nations, a range of fun and interactive events underlined with powerful messages are taking place to do just that.”
Empress Shôken Fund announces grants for 2020
The Empress Shôken Fund is named after Her Majesty the Empress of Japan, who proposed – at the 9th International Conference of the Red Cross – the creation of an international fund to promote relief work in peacetime. It is administered by the Joint Commission of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which maintains close contact with the Japanese Permanent Mission in Geneva, the Japanese Red Cross Society and the Meiji Jingu Research Institute in Japan.
The Fund has a total value of over 16 million Swiss francs and supports projects run by National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to benefit their communities in various ways. The first grant was awarded in 1921, to help five European National Societies fight the spread of tuberculosis. The Fund has assisted more than 160 National Societies thus far.
The imperial family, the Japanese government, the Japanese Red Cross and the Japanese people revere the memory of Her Majesty Empress Shôken, and their enduring regard for the Fund is shown by the regularity of their contributions to it.
The grants are usually announced every year on 11 April, the anniversary of her death. This year the announcement is being published earlier owing to the Easter holidays.
The selection process
The Empress Shôken Fund received 36 applications in 2020, covering a diverse range of humanitarian projects run by National Societies in every region of the world. This year the Joint Commission agreed to allocate a total of 400,160 Swiss francs to 14 projects in Argentina, Bulgaria, Greece, Iraq, Lithuania, Montenegro, Namibia, Palestine, Panama, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uganda.
The projects to be supported in 2020 cover a number of themes, including first aid, youth engagement and disaster preparedness. Moreover, nearly all of the selected projects seek to strengthen the volunteer base of National Societies, with a view to building on the unique role played by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement in communities everywhere. The Fund encourages new and innovative approaches that are geared towards learning, so that the broader Movement can benefit from project findings.
The 2020 grants
TheArgentine Red Crosshas launched a generational change in its leadership by promoting volunteers’ access to decision-making bodies. It will use the grant to design and build virtual courses, creating new spaces for dialogue and debate.
For years, the Bulgarian Red Cross has been a major partner of the State in the field of first aid, helping it to respond effectively in a crisis. The National Society will use the grant to reinforce its leadership position by introducing an online first-aid training platform that will facilitate theoretical learning and increase the number of trained first-aiders.
The Hellenic Red Cross seeks to empower local communities in vulnerable or isolated areas. The grant will go towards establishing branch and community disaster teams that will build communities’ resilience through activities and training around disaster risk reduction.
In Iraq, late detection of breast cancer is common and makes the disease much deadlier. To save women’s lives, theIraqi Red Crescent Societywill use the grant to train female volunteers who will raise awareness of early detection methods for breast cancer.
The Lithuanian Red Cross will put the grant towards an innovative digital platform for evaluating the impact of its first-aid courses, issuing and tracking certifications, and connecting with first-aiders after they complete their training.
Young people account for more than 80% of the volunteers of the Red Cross of Montenegro. The National Society will use the grant to improve its activities and services with the aim of strengthening youth participation and raising awareness of volunteer opportunities.
As Namibia’s population grows, first-aid skills and services are more in demand than ever before. The grant will enable the Namibia Red Cross to run intensive first-aid training and certification courses in ten schools.
To better serve the communities it works with, thePalestine Red Crescent Society seeks to build its staff members’ and volunteers’ capacities. It will use the grant to establish a computer lab as a continuing-education unit for all of its staff and volunteers.
In Panama, gang violence has shot up in recent years, and pollution continues to grow owing to a lack of public awareness. The Red Cross Society of Panama will use the grant to develop a series of activities aimed at promoting a culture of peace and environmental responsibility.
Blood transfusion services are an essential component of Sierra Leone’s health-care system. The grant will enable the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society to increase access to safe blood products, especially for pregnant woman and infants.
In Timor-Leste, 70% of the population is under 30 years old, but accessing information about reproductive health can be difficult, particularly in rural areas. The Timor Leste Red Cross will use the grant for a public-awareness and education campaign for young people on reproductive health.
The Tonga Red Cross Society will use the grant to improve students' access to health care and physical activity by using safer vehicles for transportation.
The Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society is exploring novel approaches to teaching disaster preparedness and increasing public awareness on the subject. The grant will enable the National Society to use virtual-reality technology to teach the public about the reality and impact of disasters.
In Uganda, 70% of blood donors are students, so the country faces blood shortages outside term time. The Uganda Red Cross Society will use the grant to develop its online recruitment of adult blood donors so as to counteract any seasonal shortfalls during the holidays.
Youth in Europe
The Red Cross Red Crescent European Youth Network (EYN) has empowered and connected young people across the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement since 1975.