Economic empowerment toward prevention of radicalization
16 Aug 2019 by Nazik Avlyakulova
Mobilizing the energy, flexibility, openness and dynamics of young men and women is important in driving positive change and strengthening resilience of local communities against spread and influence of radicalization. Multilateral interactive platforms, forums, debates and roundtables in communities provide opportunities for youth to express their views, needs and interests and provide for their involvement in the decision-making process with the existing youth councils, local governance and civil society as well as enforce regular dialogue and engage more youth in the process. Representatives of the Youth Organization named after Magtymguly and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Policy of Turkmenistan took part in the ECOSOC Youth Forum held in New York on April 2019.
“We were invited to take part in the international high-level forum and share our experience on the topic of youth engagement,” recalls Parahat Meretliyev from Youth Organization. “It was fascinating to see so many young people communicating on the topics of international relations, civil society, sustainable development and youth empowerment. The Forum allowed us to connect to each other and also to compare experiences of young people from different countries.”
The Forum provided a platform for young leaders from around the world to engage in a dialogue with government representatives, youth delegates, policymakers and other relevant stakeholders in civil society and the private sector on how to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.[i]
Underemployed youth becomes an easy target for various groups with radical and anti-social ideologies. Considering this fact, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of Turkmenistan, Youth Organization and UNDP has launched a joint project aiming at creating employment for young people to reduce socio-economic pressures that exacerbate the involvement of young people into marginal and illegal professions. Creating employment opportunities and empowering young men and women improves their social inclusion and ability to participate and engage in labor market and promote peace and security. The project is funded by the Government of Japan.
Recalling on their own experience of employment Parahat said that he was always oriented to social work and community engagement. After graduating from the local institute in Turkmenistan he was employed by the Youth Organization and currently pursued a career with the Industrialists and Entrepreneurs party of Turkmenistan working as event-coordinator. Chary Hodjamuradov graduated from a university in Ukraine and was employed by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Policy also to support mass events and design youth engagement policy for the Ministry.
Youth policy of Turkmenistan targets all groups of youth offering various options of engagement into professional trainings and public events. “Most recently, we have held a huge event in the open space in one of the parks in Ashgabat. We offered young people including teenagers, students and kids to engage into sports and art competition,” says Parahat. “On regular basis, Youth organization conducts scientific competition searching for best research on various topics.”
The role of youth in development of the country shall not be underestimated. Youth is a powerful tool for promotion of economic growth and establishing political stability. To ensure a wide scale of project impact, UNDP project activities are implemented in Ashgabat city, as well as Tedjen city in Ahal velayat, Turkmenabat city in Lebap velayat, Mary city in Mary velayat, Turkmenbashy city in Balkan velayat and Dashoguz city in Dashoguz velayat, including surrounding settlements with higher concentration of young population.
“One of the most memorable part of the Forum was when UN SG Antonio Guterres has addressed us in person. At that moment we felt that all the discussions and topics which were raised were not in vein and that youth matters for high-level political leaders,” recalls Chary. “This Forum gave us new ideas on how to engage youth more and what new activities to introduce.”
Chary and Parahat suggest that more can to be done on professional trainings for youth, scaling up the work in the regions of Turkmenistan and open new employment opportunities to prevent internal migration. Seeking for new partners is another point; engaging private sector, public associations, civil society and diplomatic community will serve the implementation of youth policy week. Also, engaging youth into digitalization process and integration into the work economics of Turkmenistan would provide another platform for youth empowerment.