There are more young people in the world than ever before. This offers unprecedented opportunities for global growth, innovation, and creative advancement.
However, to fully realise these opportunities, young people must be well-represented in decision-making. Societies that focus on creating good outcomes for children and young people enjoy substantial benefits over the longer term.
In Albania, WFD is working to help improve political party accessibility. We do this by working with their youth wings and by generating research and evidence for improving the political and national discourse.
Between 27-28 May 2022, WFD brought together youth leaders from the main political parties in Albania, to participate in the Youth Cross-Paty Platform - a workshop to strengthen their leadership skills and knowledge. Held in the region of Gjirokastër, in the south of the country, 17 young leaders from the Socialist Party (SP), Democratic Party (DP) and Socialist Movement for Integration (SMI), participated in the activities.
The workshop helped participants to gain more insight and extend their knowledge on authentic leadership, communication, and debate skills. They discussed the role of youth in politics, democratic leadership, and the communication skills young leaders need, among other things.
During the two-day event, participants also had the unique opportunity to jointly agree on the main youth issues for the region of Gjirokastër, including preparing an official request to the Mayor of the Municipality of Gjirokastër and the chairman of the Municipal Council to monitor the work of the Council on topics such as youth policies, budget distribution, and education and innovation among others.
This was the first time youth leaders of the main political parties were placed at the same table and encouraged to engage with one another and work together in the region of Gjirokastër and was highly appreciated by participants.
In September 2022, representatives from the parliamentary Club for Youth Affairs and Policies of the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia visited their colleagues from the parliamentary Youth Club of the Albanian parliament. The study visit was an opportunity for the MPs from the North Macedonia Club, that has been working since 2018, to share their experiences with their colleagues from the Albanian Parliament, established at the beginning of 2022. Issues such as the impact of the emigration, standard of life and participation were the main topics the MPs discussed as major concerns of young people in the Western Balkans. The MPs attending the visit were: Monika Zajkova who is the Chair of the Club, and MPs Safije Sadiki Shaini, Marija Petrushevska, Jovan Jauleski and Muhamed Kadriov who are members of the Club.
The study visit involved a joint session of the parliamentarians in the Albanian parliament, meetings with the Chair of the Youth Club Andia Ulliri, Ministers of State Elisa Spiropali and Bora Muzhaqi. MPs also met the Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj and representatives of the Tirana Youth Capital team, as the city is the European Youth Capital for 2022 and discussed the municipal strategy and vision for young people.
MPs also met with regional organizations based in Tirana and spoke about the programmes with the representatives of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Western Balkans Fund. MPs also discussed their perspectives on both countries and the young people with British Ambassador Alastair King-Smith, Deputy head of mission of British Embassy Tirana Mia Marzouk, Ambassador of North Macedonia to Albania Danco Markovski.
The Western Balkans region has many youth challenges in common, and only through institutions and parliaments that share positive experiences, can the current needs be understood and further involve youth representatives as equal parts in their work towards improving the youth standard and position in the societies.
The model of parliamentary youth clubs provides young MPs with an opportunity to build cross party dialogue on unifying topics, and to provide attention and visibility to youth priorities in the parliaments. Their approaches and cooperation are also ways for involvement of young people in the policies that concern them.
The study visit was conducted by WFD with the support of the British Government through the Western Balkans Democracy Initiative.