I was lucky enough to be a part of the 2013 CHOGM and really valued that experience, so I didn’t hesitate to apply for the Commonwealth Futures programme knowing the value of that platform for leaders like us. The theme for the programme, Reimagining Peace, was very interesting and I didn’t want to miss out this rare opportunity to build a stronger network and contribute to finding concrete solutions as a future leader while promoting social cohesion.
The Commonwealth Futures workshop provided the perfect platform to share our contextual and cultural backgrounds to address violence and non-violence amongst societies across the word.
I honestly feel that discussing matters with the rest of the participants broadened my knowledge and made me understand the variations and degree of violence felt by different cultural and contextual backgrounds in the rest of the world. I started to understand the gravity and the importance of sharing this information with my fellow community back at home.
Reimagining Peace gave me an opportunity to learn about the measures taken by different cultures and communities to address violence, which made me look at things from a different angle positively. The programme aimed to create awareness among student leaders in promoting social cohesion, but we were flying back to our homes with the motivation to address gender-based violence, inequalities, and climate change, with deep knowledge and experience gathered through brainstorming sessions with fellow enthusiastic youth leader participants.
During the groupwork, my team decided to focus on gender-based violence. It was a challenge to factor in cultural differences and to find uniform remedies in support our solution of a common platform. Since it’s the era of information, we focused on creating a digital platform to be shared by all Commonwealth member nation universities to help address gender-based violence. Our key approach was for his digital platform to show universities how to create awareness, ensure security at their campus’, and eventually how to empower students and build confidence by making them independent. By respecting all cultural differences, we understood if our youth is empowered with skills and knowledge, we can be proactive rather than reactive to the problems we face in life.
I personally believe this was a great opportunity for young people to voice and share their brutally honest opinions in addressing these issues. Afterall, we are the future leaders and we have a duty to protect every single person by creating an environment where violence will not be tolerated anymore. Ensuring the safety of every single citizen of countries across the world is our ultimate objective. I believe that we have witnessed how not to do things for centuries. It’s now time to execute more concrete solutions so that people can stop worrying about their future and start enjoying life with peace and harmony.
Reimagining Peace gave the opportunity of networking with the best set of youth leaders across the Commonwealth nations. I believe the bonds we created will last forever and will strengthen overtime. The relationships which we build across the oceans will help to establish a stronger youth forum, and a platform that can be used to discuss important issues in each country to find better solutions and approaches rather reinventing the wheel. What I learnt through the programme, is that we all face the same set of problems but our approaches in solving the problems were unique, and sometimes there were variations on how the problems were addressed.
I strongly believe we must continue this programme through virtual means of technology, as seen with the current COVID-19 crisis which has forced us to stay at home and re-think ways and means of connecting with people across oceans. I wish we could, at least bi-annually, digitally connect and have forums discussing issues and recommending projects to both come up with and execute substantial proposals. Using these digital platforms to review the process will definitely help the world and serve the purpose of conducting the Commonwealth Future leaders workshop series in the first place.
The biggest thing I learnt from the Commonwealth Future leadership workshop was that we need to create a sense of belonging for your target audience to bring positive results. Rather than commanding people, I think the organisers created an environment where I felt that I really belonged there. The workshop created a sense of feeling where my inputs were highly valuable for future generations. As the saying goes, “Tell me and I will forget, show me and I will remember, involve me and I will understand”.
So, I believe that making people aware seems to be one good approach in minimising the impacts of violence, but I would also try to practice ways and means of creating that sense of belonging to my fellow community at home. This will help by involving more people to contribute to the betterment of the society. I strongly believe that when you feel that you belong somewhere, you start to understand the problem better. By putting yourself in the shoes of others, you will find better solutions to problems. It’s not only about planning and finding solutions but also executing and actioning the solutions too. Reviewing the outputs and performance is a must.