Why IVCO 2018 Matters

Women and Youth: Bridging the Gap.
Volunteering for Inclusive Development

After decades of work with their partners, development organizations have made unique contributions to reduce poverty through a range of program initiatives, including volunteering for development. Substantive money and human investments have been made over this period and despite these we must recognize that millions of women and young people still live in a situation of extreme poverty and inequalities. With its first Feminist International Assistance Policy adopted on June 9, 2017, the Canadian government targets gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. “This is a matter of basic justice and also basic economics. We know that empowering women, overseas and here at home, makes families and countries more prosperous.” But how is this new policy and approach impacting the work of Canadian International Volunteer Cooperation Organizations (IVCOs)? What are the other policies worldwide aiming to ensure that organizations meet the scale of continued challenges for women and youth? Are those policies achieving what they set out to achieve? Regarding youth, IVCOs need to consider the importance of young people, not only as they are the next generation of volunteers, but also because young people have never been so numerous on our planet. Moreover, IVCOs need to take into account their commitment towards global active citizenship. UNDP has established ten Guiding Principles to ensure that the skills and motivation of youth are harnessed for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developement, “which recognizes this generation as critical agents of change and integrates their priorities and needs across the economic, environmental and social dimensions of development”.

By focusing on inclusion of women and youth in volunteerism for development, the IVCO 2018 conference will provide member organizations, partners and volunteers with a space to reflect on their collective track records at promoting women and youth rights, offer an opportunity for stakeholders to build on good practices, and identify opportunities and strategies for new ways of working with and for women and youth. The conference will address the role of volunteer organizations and their contribution to changes in policies, practices, ideas and beliefs towards the 2030 Agenda. IVCOs, together with the global community, must play a role in working to build a fairer world, for everyone.

The conference will encourage open discussions and set a space to provide fresh perspectives on women and youth inclusion in volunteering for development. It will address strategical questions through in-depth workshops and inspiring talks:

– Given the development challenges that women and youth who are often left behind are facing, how can IVCOs make a difference through its volunteering contribution?

– How can IVCOs engage with women and youth in support of the SDGs most affecting them? What are some innovations in these areas?

– Is the work that IVCOs are doing achieving what they set out to achieve for and with women and youth?

These main questions will be addressed from three angles, the three subthemes of the conference :

From policies to practices

Day One of the conference will give a critical overview of global policies that facilitate or undermine the inclusion of women and youth in development. This day will set the stage for the conference by providing a historical overview of the trends, key achievements, current policy environment and remaining challenges. Key questions will be raised: Has progress been made? Why are gender and youth policies still important? How do international and national policies intersect? How can IVCOs best address and prioritize development issues that are affecting women and youth?

Innovations and Opportunities

Day Two will focus on innovative development strategies for advancing gender equality and empowering youth. Which innovative volunteering practices will best achieve this agenda? How can IVCOs redefine their volunteers as innovators as well as capacity builders? How can IVCOs best equip their volunteers and partners? Panelists from different regions/organizations will present different innovations engaging women and youth or lead by them.

Communicating Impacts Strategically

Day Three will discuss how organizations communicate the inclusion of women and youth in development, and what the best ways are to engage women and youth in communicating the impacts of volunteering for development. What are the stereotypes related to women and youth? To whom do IVCOs need to communicate the necessity and the impacts of including women and youth as key actors in development: volunteers, partners, staff and funders? What are the best ways to communicate it? Do IVCOs include women and youth in their communications? Is there enough political, social space outside the usual IVCOs’ networks to communicate it? How do these communications live on after the end of volunteers’ mandates?

A series of background papers created for the conference will enrich and inform the discussions.

At the end of the conference, innovative solutions and commitments that emerged in the dialogue sessions will be outlined for IVCOs to take forward in their work regarding inclusive development.

We look forward to welcoming you in Montreal and to celebrating inclusion of women and youth in volunteering for development!

Your IVCO 2018 Hosts:

International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum)

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