By Thuan Nguyen
This past April 2015, I had a chance to participate in the ASEAN Youth Forum, held in the capital city of Malaysia, the beautiful and magnificent city of Kuala Lumpur. The Forum was both informative and inspiring. During the two-day discussion, we, the young generation of ASEAN, shared critical views and informed each other about the situation in our countries as well as brainstormed on measures for addressing numerous issues, including gender discrimination, justice, development, and education.
It was really enjoyable and honorable to be there. The youth of ASEAN gathered to discuss methods of how to make ASEAN a better place for a common future. We all want to see good governments, no discrimination, justice, peace, sustainability and the integrity and transparency of governmental institutions in development projects. Before coming to the events, many of us had conducted advocacy events and had been working in NGOs to fight for that cause. Some of our friends there were representatives of many organizations.
Unlike the prior year’s ASEAN Youth Forum in 2014, which was a very big event, held in Yangon and attended by more than 300 people, this year’s ASEAN Youth Forum took place in a small office. Even though we’ve made a great deal of effort and have gained so much from the Forum, my mind is still being occupied with many and many questions that I can’t seem to find the answers: “Why aren’t we officially recognized?”, “Why is the voice of youth not being taken into account?”, “Why can’t we share our ideas?”, “Why can’t we make our own decision for our own generation in the future”, “Why the decisions are being made without the most important stakeholders, the young people of the next generation?”.
We worked on different issues regarding different sectors, but the main purpose which brought us to the Forum was that we wanted the youth to be empowered to raise our own voice. The Forum was an event that connected us all, united us for a more powerful youth advocacy. After the Forum, we’ve made new solid friends, new acquaintances, become more united and powerful, we were inspired by each other to keep on working and fighting.
We want our voice to be heard, respected and taken into account and we’ll continue to do so to ensure the future is bright and sustainable for all.