Youth Civil Activism Network (YouthCAN)
The YouthCAN community united over 1,900 young activists, creatives and tech entrepreneurs in more than 130 countries.
One of ISD’s oldest initiatives, YouthCAN is a global network that was created and launched in 2015 for young activists to understand, encourage and amplify positive grassroots efforts against violent extremism and hate speech. YouthCAN encourages collaboration between young actors across society to come together to use creativity to form new partnerships and form a united front against hate and extremism. YouthCAN works across several contexts to inform and inspire young activists through workshops, resources and an online community, and through this work we strive to give them a confident voice to articulate a vision for the future and share their views with key influencers and policymakers.
YouthCAN was developed to enable the meaningful participation of young people in P/CVE through the following mechanisms:
- Building the capacity of youth as actors for social change in their communities
- Facilitating networked grassroots activism
- Creating opportunities for their involvement and leadership, either through assisted campaign development or connecting them with opportunities for representation
- Promoting a more enabling environment for young activists by contributing to the best practices that govern other youth-development programmes.
Between 2018 and 2021, YouthCAN empowered 88 young activists in Pakistan and Australia, providing them with the tools they needed to create effective content aimed at challenging hate speech and extremism. The programme’s Youth Innovation Labs offline, and its Digital Bootcamps online, offered young activists the resources and expertise to develop and deliver counter-speech campaigns for tackling issues affecting young people in their communities.
The activists went on to launch 17 youth-led, community-level initiatives in Islamabad, Lahore and Melbourne, directly impacting 728 other youth and reaching over 11 million online. The campaigns included inter-religious dialogue events, awareness-raising through sport, story-telling for children, digital magazines against gender-based violence, film, art, music and more.
In 2017, YouthCAN and the Strong Cities Network combined efforts to develop the Young Cities programme, which is now the youth pillar of the SCN. The project aims to connect young activists and youth leaders with local policymakers and municipal authorities, deliver training to build their capacities to enact change together and establish a more permanent framework for dialogue.