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From our member Law and Society Trust (LST), Sri Lanka – A Story of Change: South Asian Youth for Inclusive Development: Empowering Individuals; Strengthening Communities

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South Asian Youth for Inclusive Development: Empowering Individuals; Strengthening Communities (YIELD) was an action research that was implemented in India and Bangladesh from January 2018 to July 2020. In India, Misaal Foundation built a network of youth from minority Muslim communities and in Bangladesh, Bandhu Social Welfare Society built a network of youth from sexuality and gender diverse communities. The capacities of the youth were systematically developed so that they became ‘Changemakers’ in their communities. They designed and implemented community-centered interventions. This action research sought to explore ways in which youth civic engagement can be used to minimize the effects of discrimination, exclusion, marginalization, and reduce the appeal to violence. Lessons emerging through these interventions form the subject of this action research. In particular, this action research sought to examine means and modes of youth civic engagement, including factors that affect youth engagement and the youth’s response towards violence and discrimination. The project also attempted to draw out lessons on gender and the use of new technologies.

This report presents our process, challenges, and the lessons learned. YIELD helped us understand the context in which youth from marginalized communities live. In India amidst growing anti-Muslim hate crime and new citizenship laws, minority communities remain anxious. Deeply rooted gender norms and social hierarchies work to maintain the social status quo, posing a barrier to youth civic engagement. Socio-economic factors, discriminatory laws, and concerns around safety and security posed barriers to youth civic engagement. While voluntary engagement of youth proved unsustainable, remunerating youth for their time allowed us to develop organic leadership from within the marginalized communities. Changemakers used strategic entry-points into the communities and gained trust over time. In India, the introduction of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in December 2019 was a turning point for the action research. As the communities turned to the Changemakers for leadership, the Changemakers seamlessly stepped into expanded roles. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and providing humanitarian relief to marginalized communities became a matter of urgency, the Changemakers supported the organizations. This is a story of youth civic engagement in our region. It is a story of solidarity and leadership. This is our story of how change may take place.


Click here to download the report in pdf.