Saying goodbye to the first local Youth Advisory Committee

At this moment in time, more than 20 Dutch Embassies have a local Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) that advises them on local policy issues from a youth perspective. The first local YACs were created around two and a half years ago, and it’s been a continuous learning process since.

Our embassy in Kampala, Uganda, established the very first local YAC, which helped pave the way for the many others that followed. Recently, the first members of the committee – Opira, Rachael, Martha, Emmanuel and Winnie – said their goodbyes.

YAC Uganda
The YAC members with the ambassadors.

Meaningful Youth Participation in Uganda

Already before the initiation of the local YAC, the embassy in Uganda has been actively and meaningfully involving young people in their work across the board. The embassy was one of the first ones to recognize the cruciality of going beyond ‘just’ having young people present at discussions. Instead, it really is about recognizing their insights, ideas and initiatives as valuable contributions to societal growth.

To walk the talk, the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kampala was the first to set-up a local YAC in 2022. After two years of engaging in discussions on the experiences of young people in Uganda and voicing opportunities and challenges, the Ambassador to Uganda Karin Boven and the Dutch Ambassador for Youth, Education and Work had the pleasure of presenting them with a certificate for their excellent work during a farewell ceremony end of May.

Learning from Experience: Lunch Discussion

Before receiving their certificates, the YAC members had a lunch discussion with the ambassadors and their teams. During this open conversation, Opira, Rachael, Martha, and Emmanuel (Winnie unfortunately could not be there) were able to share their thoughts about their time as YAC members, and shared their excitement about the experience. They indicated that their contributions felt meaningful and surpassed tokenism, whilst at the same time contributing to personal development.

YAC Uganda
Rachael giving her speech.

An interesting discussion that emerged was on the profoundness of meaningful youth participation that was experienced by the YAC members. Since the Youth at Heart strategy is a pioneering approach to youth participation, the members indicated that it was hard at times to fully comprehend the extent of influence the YAC members could have within the work of the Netherlands in Uganda.

For future YACs, it would therefore be good to pay more attention to expectation management on both sides, concrete projects inviting a proactive stance by YAC members, and active feedback on outcomes; advise that was welcomed with open arms by the ambassador. Simultaneously, the members shared that it was a logical process to go through with these types of initiatives, and were glad to have the opportunity to give this one last advice.

Farewell Reception

The lunch discussion was followed by a reception, attended by representatives from the diplomatic and international community, the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, civil society, private sector, and other youth activists. Rachael, the Ambassador for Uganda, and the Ambassador for Youth Education and Work addressed the crowd, challenging guests to think about how they can advance MYP in their organizations.

For their valuable contributions, the members received a certificate and letter of participation from the embassy. This not only recognizes the value of their work; it also provided them with prove of their role as YAC member. Providing these type of certifications is deemed increasingly important when looking at creating opportunities for youth.

Uganda’s YAC in the Future

The willingness of Ugandan youth to raise their voice and contribute to policy making has been evident throughout the work of the Embassy with young people from all types of backgrounds and regions being represented in various sectors and programs. Of course, the voice of Ugandan youth has also been actively represented in the Netherlands’ International YAC by Daisy Kandole.

The embassy is dedicated to build on the energy of the Ugandan youth and take into account the lessons learned from the past. The first instance that it will do so is with the start of the new cohort, which is expected to start in August. For this selection process, help of the Challenge Fund for Youth Employment is called upon as intermediary organization. Something to look out for!