DFAT logo 'Australian Aid' with a red cangaroo

On August 25, the General Election Network for Disability Access (AGENDA) convened the sixth regional disabled people’s organization (DPO) virtual meeting on “Engaging Young People in Advocacy Initiatives and Electoral Participation”. The meeting was moderated by IFES’ Youth Specialist, Ashley Law, and IFES’ Inclusion Specialist, Rebecca Aaberg. The Chairman of ASEAN Disability Forum (ADF) and AGENDA DPO partners from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam participated in the meeting. IFES’ Youth Specialist asked a series of questions using Mentimeter to gauge participants’ understanding of the youth demographic in Southeast Asia and how countries in the region define young people. IFES’ Youth Specialist then presented the Hart Ladder of Participation to show the eight levels of youth participation, which range from “manipulation” to “youth initiated shared decisions with adults.” Participants split into two groups to discuss ways in which their organization has engaged youth on the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Enabling Masterplan) and the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to increase youth engagement with a shared decision-making approach, DPOs expressed the need to develop recruitment strategies that effectively target young people beyond the usual volunteer role. As next steps, DPOs discussed expanding their outreach to rural areas and creating more partnerships with local DPOs and civil society organizations (CSOs) to work on issues of interest to youth such as health, education and political processes.