On May 7th, the Embassy of Afghanistan and Oslo Center initiated a joint discussion with young activists in a virtual meeting. The purpose of the discussion was for the Oslo Center to hear perspectives from the youth on their activities as well as identifying areas of future collaboration.
The Center was established by former Norwegian Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik in 2006, as an independent organization. The Center’s main area of focus is on democracy, peace and human rights, while initiating various projects focused on youth and women’s groups.
Delivering opening remarks, Ambassador Ghafoorzai welcomed all participants from Norway, Kabul and Kenya. He expressed the Embassy’s desire in helping facilitate the start of collaboration between the Center and youth groups on issues related to peace and further consolidation of democracy.
Ambassador Ghafoorzai stated that as activists in the social, political, cultural and other fields, “the youth have proven to be powerful agents of change” and “a source of hope and confidence for the future of the country.”
He further stated that the voice and activism of the youth in the peace process is one of the important areas of their responsibility. “You possess the creative ideas and dynamism that’s needed to help influence and advance progress on various national issues, including the peace process.” The contribution of the youth in this area was needed as part of broader national efforts to “achieve a truly dignified and lasting peace, that preserves all that’s been achieved thus far through joint efforts and sacrifice.”
More broadly, he mentioned that the youth had an important role to play for the future stability and prosperity of the country. “You have an extremely important role to play. Not only now but also in the way forward. Therefore, your focus should be not only on the current context, but also on preparation for leadership positions to help secure your country’s future,” said Ambassador Ghafoorzai.
Ambassador Ghafoorzai highlighted that empowerment of youth and civil society was an issue of great importance for Afghanistan. As of late, new measures were taken to formalize further the role of youth groups on various issues. The government initiated the formation of the High Council for Youth, which held its first meeting, with President Ghani.
Mr. Finn Jarle Rode, Executive Director of the Oslo Center, thanked all participants for joining the meeting and expressed his gratitude for the Embassy on initiating the discussion. Mr. Roda has also shared his experiences while working in Afghanistan and emphasized that the Oslo Center is committed on support joint conversations and initiatives between different youth groups in order to help them exchange experiences and knowledge.
The Senior Advisor at the Oslo Center, Ms. Bjarte Tørå, has also joined the meeting and presented the Center’s experience in working with youth in different countries. He presented all areas the Oslo Center focuses on, such as helping youth groups on bringing contributions in decision-making and assisting youth on initiating their roles within various processes and discussions.
Following Ms. Tørå’s remarks, Ms. Halima Chizi Mohammed – Deputy President at the Kwale Youth Assembly in Kenya – highlighted the functionality of the youth assemblies in Kwale and spoke about their achievements under the youth assembly in her country.
Ms. Pashtana Durrani, Activist and Youth Ambassador; Mr. Rafiullah Baktiar, Co-founder and Program Director of Voice of Peace Afghanistan; and Mr. Jan Mohamad Jahid, Activist and Youth Ambassador; shared their experiences from working with youth and women, as well as the goals and major projects of the organizations they were representing.
The Embassy, the Oslo Center and youth activists would continue collaboration on various issues and the Oslo Center expressing readiness to open its office in Kabul.