With this tool, you can directly address a candidate for the #YFJelections with your question. All replies will be sent back to you and made available publicly here.
Find the answers from candidates below !
Question 1 – From Elin Lilijenbladh (IGLYO)
To: All candidates
What is your previous experience in working for LGBTQI rights and how do you envision YFJ working with these important human rights issues for the coming mandate and onward?
My previous experience in working for LGBTQI rights is mostly limited to CNTM.
Nevertheless, I would like to mention the fact that CNTM served as a founding organization for the Non-discrimination Coalition and held the secretariat for almost 20 years. The Coalition served as a platform for lobby and advocacy campaigns that promoted the adoption of the “Law on Equality”.
From Andrea CASAMENTI (ECYC) – Candidate to the Board
thank you for a question on a topic that is very relevant to me. I have advocated for LGBTQI rights throughout my entire life and in different ways. Until I turned 20, I lived in a small town in Italy and actively participated in different local activities (campaigns, stands, debates etc.) promoting equal rights and respect and raising awareness on LGBTQI issues. In the past few years, I have advocated for LGBTQI rights also in the framework of my professional career, particularly as a project manager at the European Confederation of Youth Clubs (ECYC). I conceived and implemented training courses on the matter of sexual orientation and gender identity and I have recently applied for funds from the European Youth Foundation for a training course called ‘Sexual Identity: A Human Right’ and taking place in Cyprus, for which I have already contacted IGLYO.
I definitely would like to continue advocating for LGBTQI rights as a Board member of the European Youth Forum. Too many countries, both in the EU and outside, still do not respect and protect the human rights of LGBTQI people and too often we see increases in intorelance, discrimination and racism throughout our continent. As a Board member, I would raise the issue with MEPs, European Commission representatives and the other decision-makers at international and national level, I would raise awareness on the matter among the member organisations of the YFJ and other organisations outside of the platform and, by setting up groups, consultations, meetings etc., I would aim to ensure that the voices of all young LGBTQI people will be heard and listened to.
From Carina AUTENGRUBER (ÖJV) – Candidate for Vice-President
Dear friends from IGLYO,
thanks a lot for your question concerning my experience in the work on LGBTQI* issues and how I see it envisioned in the work of the YFJ.
Concerning my experience on LGBTQI* topics I’d like to share with you some aspects from our work in the Austrian National Youth Council (ÖJV).
In 2014 we started our campaign “let’s talk about sex”. Sexuality and identity, are important issues for all young people, but are often absent in political debates. The baseline of our campaign was a position paper on sexuality. A crucial factor for a quality position paper was the strong involvement of LGBTQI* organisations. Other elements of the campaign included workshops in schools, a video that was widely shown and a postcard project to collect demands of young people. As youth council we have a clear stance against the discrimination of young lesbians, gays and transgender and highlight that not all young people find themselves in the binary system. Some calls from our position paper are for example:
– antidiscrimination workshops that follow an intersectional approach and highlight the diversity of sexualities as part of the school curricula
– recognition of self-determination and self-definition of gender identity
– specific counselling-, therapy and support offers for young trans- and intersex people
Besides the work in the youth council, I’m currently doing my masters in Gender Studies and therefore also have some theoretical background on LGBTQI* relevant issues.
As stated in my application, I’d like to work towards an inclusive and diverse membership. One key issue I have mentioned was, that the European Youth Forum should develop together with member organisations, diversity trainings and other offline/online tools. One initiative that was already taken by the membership, also in cooperation with IGLYO, was the development of a gender watch. I believe this kind of initiatives bring a lot of added value to the Forum. And why are this processes so important? Because they follow participatory approaches and look at a topic from different angles. A concrete example on how to strengthen the platform is a diversity task force. The task force could e.g. work on guidelines on how to ensure diversity (e.g. gender identity/expression) when drafting position papers or working on publications.
Moreover, together we need to work on a strategy on how to make diversity in the Forum a reality. One important step is to make an assessment of the current diversity situation in the platform. Following this, we can take decisions on how to change our organizational structures. To make this meaningful, we have to define comprehensive and measurable goals. We need to incorporate diversity in every aspect of the functioning and purpose of the Forum. But most importantly, we have to remember that feedback mechanisms are crucial to see if the implemented measures were successful. I strongly believe that together we can ensure that diversity is integrated into the core values of the Forum.
From Mari Stromsvag (LNU) – Candidate to the Board
LGBTQI rights and issues are more important than ever, in a time when human rights are either taken for granted or disregarded. As youth activists and youth organizations we have continue to take responsibility to drive the work forward, even when we think we don’t need to.
In the roles I have had in my organizations or in work positions I have not worked directly with LGBTQI rights, but I have proposed and worked with our policy documents where we cover youth rights, human rights, and LGBTQI rights. My personal opinion is that all humans are worth the same, and should have the same rights, protection and opportunities as anyone else, and I put that on the basis of any decision I take.
Being aware of our work on inclusion and diversity, I believe YFJ should set the standard and be progressive. We need to look beyond just neutral gender selection on registration forms, and be bold, think big and implement our dream goals.
If elected to the board of YFJ, one of my first requests would be to invite IGLYO to host a training on how the board should speak about LGBTQI rights, because I believe the board needs to learn to talk about these rights, the right way, to truly make a difference and live what we preach.
Thanks for the opportunity to answer Elin’s question, I am glad the issue has been raised.
From Max de Boer (ESN) – Candidate to the Board
My previous experience in working for LGBTQI rights is limited. However, a concrete example where I gathered experience is my tourism project paper about LGBTQI tourism in Switzerland. Through this project paper, I learned more about LGBTQI rights and the community. Hence, I am eager to continue broadening my knowledge in this field for the future.
Personally, I pursue a strong learning approach for all different kinds of topics and I believe that the future board and the secretariat will pursue the same learning approach as described in the ‘Good Governance Manifesto’. As a result, I would be pleased to see the board and secretariat engage in learning more about LGBTIQI rights through IGLYO by e.g organizing an event, a meeting, a learning weekend or simply having a well-structured skype meeting.
For your second part of the question, I would like to refer to the draft working plan. For the coming mandate and onward, I believe that specialized board members in this field should peruse to (1) advocate for the recognition and advancement of youth rights, (2) advocate for the realisation of access to youth rights through legal and policy tools and (3) build out the capacity and expertise of the Youth Forum to advocate commonly for access on youth rights.
I hope this answer finds you well and if you would like me to further elaborate on my answer, please do not hesitate to contact me. Moreover, I am pleased to provide you with the mentioned paper above if desired.
From Dejan Bojanic (OBESSU) – Candidate for Vice-President
Thank you for the question, IGLYO! As a member of the LGBTQI community I have been wholeheartedly advocating for full access to rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer people, as well to affect society to develop sense of pride for diversity.
My background organisation OBESSU has partner-membership in IGLYO – we have been supporting each other’s struggle, have done campaigns together and had organised a joint event during my mandate in the Board of OBESSU called Standing together: Action and advocacy against bullying. An outcome of that event was the publication Guidelines for an LGBTQ-Inclusive Education which IGLYO issued with support of OBESSU. I participated in the capacity-building seminar on norm-critical approach in education organised by ILGA-Europe and IGLYO and hosted by RFSL Ungdom in April 2014.
In the Board of the European Youth Forum I have tried to infiltrate LGBTQI advocacy by asking for IGLYO’s expertise, following processes such is the List of Actions to advance LGBTI equality by the European Commission and by participating in Euro Pride 2016 as a representative of YFJ. During my leadership of institutional relations with the UN I have been following global-level advocacy efforts to ensure equality of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, as well as initiatives focusing on intersex people.
I hope that we will continue to work closely together – both to make Europe more diverse but also to ensure that European Youth Forum is a safe space with structures fitted for inclusion of all young people. I expect to count on your expertise, but to also offer the space and resources that the Youth Forum occasionally has to bring forward your advocacy. Internally my ambition is to do more to enforce our code of conduct, develop gender watch at our meetings, introduce familiarization with gender pronounces, reshape our registration form to include a question on gender, open more debates in the platform to understand queer theory and become more sensitive to not only LGBTQI community as a whole but also the people within it with many who are facing multiple forms of discrimination; and more! I hope I will have your support in that effort. // Dejan Bojanic
From Vile Majamaa (WOSM) – Candidate to the Board
Thank you for the question. The recent resolution on Equality and Non-Discrimination adopted at the April 2016 COMEM gives the YFJ a strong mandate to work on this important issue also in the next board mandate. In terms of implementing this resolution, there are several ongoing advocacy processes that touch the issue of LGBTQI rights.
Firstly, on the UN level the goal number 10 (social, economic and political inclusion of all) of the recently adopted SDGs gives us opportunities in Europe to demand for more efforts to tackle discrimination based on any grounds. As far as we know, the European Commission is currently developing implementation mechanisms for the SGDs and this is a process we have to absolutely to be a part of. Talking of the European Union, another issue to follow is process around the the proposed Equal Treatment Directive and the (possible) development of European standards for national equality bodies which still in many countries – if they exist – fail on the question of LGBTQI rights. Thirdly, in the Council of Europe, it is absolutely crucial that the YFJ together with the AC a) monitors closely the implementation of the recently adopted Committee of Ministers Recommendation on Young People’s Access to Rights and b) supports the membership in using the recommendation in their advocacy work on both national and European level.
Finally, as the last point already suggested, the issue of ensuring LGBTQI rights is also a matter of capacity-building and awareness-raising within the youth sector and the YFJ member organisations. In these efforts, the more experienced member organisations are in the key role in helping the platform to critically review its procedures and practices (as IGLYO did with its amendment on the rules of procedures for the GA) as well as raising awareness of successful campaigns and/or human rights violations amongst the youth organisations. As a platform, we need to ensure that there is space for this kind of peer learning processes and that we do not only meet but exceed our own demands for the formal institutions when it comes to tackling discrimination.
From Kristen Aigro (ENL) – Candidate to the Board
All of my background organisations in their political platforms demand for equal treatment and non-discrimination for all young people including those belonging to the LGBTQI community.
As a representative of those organisations I have always in my work represented this view and would not be willing to work towards policies in opposite views.
It is my strong personal conviction that diversity is a strength and everyone must have the right for their individual identity free of discrimination.
I have not worked on specific projects or campaigns on LGBTQI rights.
FIghting for access to rights is the core of what the YFJ does and should continue to do. When it comes to LGBTQI youth in particular, I think the most imporant thing is to have their own opinons on how the
YFJ can best work towards their access to rights strongly represented. This is the only way of ensuring successful policies.
This also requires for the YFJ to be as inclusive as a platform as possible, I believe we still have work to do to ensure this. But we need to strive for no barriers to safe and accessible participaiton within the youth forum.
From Luis ALVARADO MARTINEZ (AEGEE) – Candidate for President
Thank you very much for the relevant question. Having been involved in the youth sector for some time already, I believe
I have a significant understanding, experience and level of knowledge in working with LGBTQI organizations, ranging from the local level through the MOs of the FELGTB in the Canary Islands and working with them in different awareness raising campaigns, to
working with them on the creation of local and regional youth councils ensuring that mechanisms to ensure safety and safe spaces of individuals at all moments, as well as procedures which will not only avoid discrimination at all levels, but will also ensure
early warning mechanisms when those actually happen. A vital point in my collaboration with them was always the promotion, the raising awareness and education of public and youth about LGBTQI rights.
On the European level , from AEGEE’s side, we worked on several initiatives on the field of LGBTQI rights, mostly
by cooperating and learning from IGLYO (when we were still very young and inexperienced).
Initiatives such as the
YouthRights.NOW campaign where IGLYO was our core partner, providing the piece of the puzzle to LGBTQI rights when following up the recommendation of “Young People’s Access to Fundamental Rights” in the Council of Europe.
During the same process, and especially in the framework of the
9th Council of Ministers of Youth of the Council of Europe, not only AEGEE, but me personally, helped co-lead an advocacy action, specifically around youth rights and mostly LGBTQI rights around including sexual-reproductive rights as well as inclusion
of gender perspective and gender identity in formal education curricula and settings in the final declaration drafter in Saint Petesburg.
During my Presidency at AEGEE-Europe, and organization more than 30 years old, me and my board started the foundations
of approving internal structures as well as policy documents around LGBTQI rights. Something which proved to be extremely controversial and with a lot of tension, given the representation of students from 40 countries in geographical Europe – but nevertheless
we were successful and today LGBTQI rights have become a constant and normalized advocacy item in AEGEE’s portfolio.
Being still AEGEE President, but also being Vice President of YFJ, I have had the pleasure of working closing with
representatives of IGLYO in the framework of the Structured Dialogue – being a living example that INGYOs bring an incredibly important European-wide expertise to the discussion, and that they are light years away of the rest of us in inclusion, diversity,
gender and identity discussions.
Last but not least, I had the opportunity of serving as Member of the
Advisory Council on Youth for some time, where I worked with the legendary Roh Petas, your former Chairperson, who taught us a great deal when it came to vital concepts around gender perspective and identity, sexual orientation and many more. Viva good
Having said this, yes I have had certain level of experience and knowledge when it comes to the work around LGBTQI
rights – But by no means I consider myself an expert in this field, and as we have discussed several times, I believe YFJ has a lot to learn from MOs such as IGLYO in terms of ensuring meaningful participation in an safe environment, with a high level of awareness
and preparation from both its board and secretariat. Would be happy to engage much more with IGLYO, and organizations that work in the same field or are more aware but also organizations that lack of knowledge or oppose these, to create a space to discuss
in order to see what changes we could put in place organizationally and politically to ensure all the above are fulfilled.
I am very happy that my colleague Dejan is running a campaign for Vice President on inclusion and diversity as well
as Carina running on a strong platform on gender equality, which I love, and I would love even more if we could empower both VPs to tackle these issues in our platform, and ensure that areas such as Human Rights, which include LGBTQI rights, are not a one-off
issues tackled in one policy paper, but they are mainstreamed in all of our policy areas as well as internal procedures. Again, we don’t have all the answers, but the will to elevate you and bring you in, on matters where you are the real experts to ensure
a meaningful and deep impact in the work of our platform.
Tack and see you in Varna.
Question 2 – From Martin Meier (WOSM)
To: All candidates
The main aim of the YFJ advocacy in the field of Non-Formal Education should be advocating for the recognition and validation of NFE, raising awareness among various stakeholders of the positive effects NFE has on individuals and society and promoting quality education.
In two years Member states should fully develop and implement validation arrangements at national level (Council Recommendation on the validation of NF and IF learning). Youth organisations have valuable knowledge and expertise on NFL and IL and should be recognized as one of the key stakeholders in implementing the Council Recommendation. In some cases the recognition of youth organisation already exists, while in some, additional effort needs to be made. European Youth Forum has to continue to closely work with the member organisations in advocacy activities on European and national level and provide support where member organisations recognize it’s necessary. In addition, key role of non-formal education in the implementation of the New Skills Agenda for Europe should be recognized and Member States should guarantee sustainable investment in young people’s skills.
One of the biggest challenges that we might face are the following: lack of political will by Member States and the EU for (quality) implementation of validation arrangements, followed by the lack of inclusion of youth organisation in these processes. There is also a never-ending question of investments by the EU and Member States in NFL and IL despite the fact that they are constantly emphasizing the importance of the NFL and IL for young people. Basically, we have to insist that national and European authorities put money where their mouth is. YFJ should also continue to build partnerships and coalitions with other sectors (formal education, private sector, etc.) to achieve greater recognition of NFL & IL and strengthen its role in the policy processes. Last but not least, we, as youth organisations, have to always put the needs and benefits of young people in the centre of our efforts when striving for greater validation of NFL and IL. I’m not implying that we do not do that already, but since the question of validation can often become very technical and bureaucratic, that focus sometimes can get a bit blurred.