The Youth Initiative (YI) turns 7 years old this January, which in and of itself is an accomplishment in a context where most programs have a very short lifespan for a myriad of reasons. The Youth Initiative was born as a product of concerned youths back in 2012 to combat boredom and more seriously, apathy towards the unfolding democratic process of Bhutan. 

Photo: Although the idea for YI was floated in 2012, it’s birth came about in 2013 with the first cohort with 10 participants, 2 coordinators and BCMD’s Executive Director

The founding youth members understood that with the monumental transition from monarchy to democracy, the youths (and other citizens) could no longer sit on the sidelines as spectators of governance but rather must take on a proactive role as shapers. It is this shared idea that led to the marriage of the youths’ hopes and dreams with Bhutan Centre for Media & Democracy (BCMD). As such, YI currently adopts the vision to create ‘An engaged society rooted in youth inclusion within policymaking’. Since then, YI has remained responsive to the needs and relevance of its time, undergoing change to fit the demands of youths; nevertheless, the spirit and aim of YI has remained unchanged over the past 6 years. 

However this year, it is opportune for YI to make a national-level impact. Themed “Youth voices in Youth matters”,  YI will be reviewing the National Youth Policy (NYP, 2011). This has several important implications: firstly, for a policy that is meant to ‘formulate a broad policy guideline to support our youth… to realize their many promises and dreams’ (pg. 5, NYP 2011), it is only appropriate for youth to play a central role to voice their dreams and concerns. 

Secondly, involving the youth throughout the review and revision process will no doubt impart a sense of ownership for the policy, which remains central to any policy’s sustainability and adoption. 

Thirdly, the principles, values, objectives and aims embedded in the policy would provide the direction and framework for youth development in Bhutan for the next few years. It is for these reasons, which are by no means comprehensive, that YI 2020 takes on a special role and responsibility to participate in shaping the landscape of youth development. 

On a broader scale, such participation from the eventual beneficiaries of a policy demonstrates the best example of democracy in action! 

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