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Promoting Youth Involvement in Elections and Governance through Social Media and the PWN and ACTA Networks

Activities

Activities included establishing youth media stations in EPD’s provincial offices with usage guidelines. A consultation and training needs assessment were conducted in each province in order for the Social Media Consultant to develop a ToT and training curriculum and activities. The curriculum focused on basic Internet and Social Media use, using the Internet for credible research and information gathering, responsible, respectful use of social media for progress and civic engagement, using social media for advocacy, using social media for building online networks, using social media for promoting accountability and transparency in elections and of elected representatives. The Provincial Officers came to Kabul for a 3-day ToT from the Social Media Consultant to train them on the equipment for the youth media stations and their basic use and maintenance, as well as training them on the training materials for delivering one 2-day training session to a target of 200 youth each province. In each province, the youth ACTA and PWN members were required to select 5 members to act as the provincial youth social media team, with one leader. Using the equipment from the youth media stations, the provincial youth social media teams were encouraged to carry out activities such as interviewing youth, attending and documenting rallies and candidate promises, interviewing candidates, gathering information such as polling station locations in their areas, etc. for posting to these platforms.

Outcomes:

The aim of the project was to increase youth involvement in democracy and governance issues through mobilizing into the potential of social media use and “netizenship” among Afghanistan’s youth. This aspect was clearly achieved by launching a social media campaign through Facebook and Twitter account (EPD-Youth Group) page that was administered by nearly 42 participants from different provinces of Afghanistan. While parliamentary election had been the initial focus of the campaign, due to the elections being postponed, in consultation with Internews, the campaign strategy for the youth media stations altered to focus not only on elections, but also on the broader topic of good governance and challenges facing youth in the country.

The quotes collected from youth social media team leaders clearly indicated that not only the project had enhanced their knowledge and technical skills in use of social media but also offered an opportunity for youth to interact with each other in relation to the current ongoing situation in the country. Moreover, they reported that the project has actually created a space for future volunteer engagement among youth.

Furthermore, the project facilitated the increased participation of women in social engagement at the provincial and district level who otherwise had little opportunity to access online information due to the negative perception of social media among their family members.