Sixty young men and women aged 20-35 from Southern, Central and Northern Bougainville have come together this week to learn about the country’s governing processes in a Mock Youth Parliament at the Hahela Youth Centre in Bougainville.
“This 5-day event is a tremendous opportunity for the young people of Bougainville – the leaders of tomorrow – to build networks and to advocate for their human rights. They are learning important life skills which will enable them to make better decisions on issues that affect their future,” said Mr. Koffi Kouame, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative, PNG Country Office.
Promoting youth leadership and participation is key to UNFPA’s work in Bougainville. UNFPA delivered the Mock Youth Parliament programme in partnership with World Vision PNG, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville Government (ABG), Department of Community Development-ABG and the National Youth Development Authority (NYDA).
The first four days of the programme educated youths on various social, political and economic issues ranging from topics such as the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Referendum, International Treaties, and Bougainville Youth Policy. They also learnt about the Bougainville Parliamentary set-up and brainstormed ideas for the Mock Youth Bill. The role-play Mock Youth Parliament was held on the fifth day.
The training is part of the rehabilitation efforts following the crisis in 1990 and is designed to involve a variety of facilitators from the ABG Government, the Parliament House, Papua New Guinea Government, the United Nations, the Australian Government (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), the Constitutional Law Reform, the Registry of PNG Integrity of Political Parties and Candidates Commission, and NYDA.
Speakers and facilitators highlighted issues that affect youths in the region to help equip them with skills that can be used to voice their concerns in their communities.
Mock Youth Parliament began in 2013 with the aim to train 120 youths to build their capacity; increase their knowledge on the parliamentary procedures; increase their self-confidence, self-esteem, motivation and understanding on civil matters pertaining to peace building, autonomy arrangements and other issues related to human rights.
As a result of this successful training initiative, previous participants have moved into leadership roles in their communities as they have a better understanding of their governing system like the Executives of the Panguna Youth Association and the Bougainville Parliament. Former participant Mr Noah Doko was elected to the Member of Central Bougainville in the 2015 ABG general elections and is currently holding the ex-combatants’ portfolio. Other successes include Mr. Maximillian Bong from Gogohe Village who became the president for the Lemanmanu Ward in North Bougainville.