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Narrative ChangeYouth Work

Empower! Express! Peacify! YUVA’s ‘Youth Unite’ E2P Campaign

India has the world’s largest youth population with over 370 million people between the ages of 15 and 29. International Youth Day, held every year on the 12th August, is a big deal for these young people. This day is an opportunity to celebrate the capabilities and achievements of young people in India, as well as bringing attention to the challenges they face. 

YUVA’s Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (ASK) is a youth-led movement for the empowerment of young people across Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. These young people collaborated with Bright Future India to facilitate a week-long campaign during the run-up to International Youth Day on 12th August 2023, led by and for youth in and around the Ghatkopar suburb of Mumbai. ‘Youth Unite: Empower, Express, Peacify (E2P) Campaign’ ran for its first year from the 7th to the 12th August, working to build momentum and engagement throughout the week. For a generation often stereotyped as naive, disheartened, or simply useful as a mere labour force, this week of events and discussions was more than a social get-together or means of entertainment; this was a political assertion of awareness, authority, and action. 


Youth empowerment is a critical part of community development, social cohesion, and positive transformation. The vast youth population in Mumbai (and indeed, in India) harbour immense potential for advocacy and to induce positive social change. However, youth today face numerous disempowering challenges like unemployment, divisive socio-political tensions, marginalisation, as well as the natural social and emotional complexity of navigating life as a young person. ASK endeavours to equip young people with skills, present them with opportunities, and encourage them to take initiative and control over their own lives, collectively working to empower them as individuals and a group. 

One of the core emphases of the E2P campaign was empowerment. Many of the activities and sessions throughout the week focused on facilitating time and space for young people to discuss the challenges they face and framing these issues in their individual contexts. Activities like community mapping and conducting interviews with local residents allowed the youth to engage locally, gather information, identify the difficulties faced in their communities, and critically evaluate the impact of such problems on their own demographic. Awareness and understanding of local challenges is crucial to be able to take action in response to injustices. 

Another activity conducted during the campaign in Ghatkopar incorporated interactive screenings of two music videos from popular artists, Dee MC and Afroz Ali, as well as a shortened clip summarising the life story and legacy of revolutionist, Bhagat Singh. The youth shared their thoughts on the topics raised by each video clip and discussed the associated social issues, including societal and patriarchal constraints on women, unemployment, the gap between the local government and the community, and the role of youth in shaping the nation. The knowledge and insight they gained was then harnessed towards action as they assumed their rights, responsibilities, duties, and power as empowered citizens. 


It is important for youth to find opportunities for introspection regarding the issues facing them and identify with the emotions and thoughts they experience. The E2P campaign provided a safe and supportive environment for youth to find this clarity and insight as a community of friends and young activists. This was difficult for them at the beginning of the week, but they became visibly increasingly engaged with their experiences and those of others as the campaign progressed. 

The week’s activities provided creative outlets for expression of the various emotions that arise when contemplating the social and economic constraints facing young people in Mumbai, from frustration to anger, hope to determination. On the second day of the campaign, for example, young people walked among local community members and created videos of their engagements and interviews. Each day, time was allocated to reflecting on the experiences, discussions, and learnings from the previous day. 

Perhaps the most expressive activity was a youth rally held towards the end of the week. This was an opportunity for youth to reflect on the issues that mattered most to them and to raise awareness on these challenges among their local community. Posters and banners were prepared in advance. While this rally was certainly an effective form of expression, it was also a display of leadership and engagement with social transformation, an increase in visibility of assertive and authoritative young people, and a refusal of complacency.


It was important for the youth to incorporate and emphasise peace during this campaign. Heightened socio-political tension in recent years has led to an increase in prejudice and animosity among communities on the grounds of differences like religion or caste. This campaign provided an opportunity for young people of various backgrounds to gather together and unite under their common struggles and challenges, embracing both their similarities and differences as they ate and talked together. ASK fostered and facilitated a neutral perspective to empower the youth to stand in solidarity with each other and promote peace.

Youth Unite

The E2P campaign helped empower youth towards expressing the difficulties they perceive in their communities and in their own lives, and to create a safe space for them to interact and find unity with each other. While the youth discussed the challenges and constraints they face, the conversation did not stop there. Concluding the campaign on International Youth Day naturally led the group to consider how to proceed to continue the work of advocacy and leadership they had begun. 

Those who are interested will meet again in coming weeks to discuss the future of youth advocacy in the community. Now that people heve an  improved understanding of the issues that exist, they are more equipped to suggest and work towards solutions. Discussions will continue to be facilitated and youth will continue to be supported socially and emotionally throughout their future journey of social transformation with YUVA and ASK. 

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