On March, 16th to 17th, the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation opened its doors to host the international „Young Global Changers Summer School“. The Global Solutions Initiative designed this academic program to bring together young political activists, social entrepreneurs, and academics from around the world. The Global Solutions Initiative emerged from the "Think 20 Summit" 2017 in Berlin - a meeting of the G20 Think Tank Network that presented research-based solutions to the G20 summit in Germany. Since then, the focus of the Young Global Changers program is on facilitating interaction and an open exchange of ideas and initiatives.
About 90 inspiring personalities from 61 (!) different countries have come together and discussed concrete strategies to tackle today’s global challenges. Thereby, they did not only build alliances. They made friends. We were lucky to meet two participants of the summer school: Lalaina Randriarimanana from Madagascar und Adin Khairudin from Indonesia to talk about rising inequalities and their strategies to build social cohesion.
Lalaina and Adin. which kind of inequalities are prevalent in your countries of origin?
Adin: In Indonesia, the gap between rich and poor is constantly growing. Property, food, and land are unevenly distributed. They are controlled by powerful elites. This development becomes evident at the housing market. Especially young people have severe problems finding accommodation- even though housing is a basic right.
Lalaina: Also in Madagascar, we witness growing inequalities. But these are not limited to the distribution of resources. The means of production are not equally accessible. The same applies to information: Disinformation erodes trust in politicians and drives civil society and politics further apart. There is no dialogue anymore and no space to develop common strategies for distributive justice.
So, what would be a sustainable solution to growing inequalities and the erosion of the social fabric?
Lalaina: Politicians and civil society need to come together and talk. Thereby, we may identify commonalities and make compromises. It is no option to withdraw from politics. In Madagascar, many activists work in isolation from politics. They are afraid to lose credibility, since most politicians have a bad reputation. But this cannot be the solution. “We cannot run away from politics”, said Gilbert Doumit from “Beyond Reform and Development”. We need to integrate our perspectives and demands into political processes. Thereby, we may render political institutions more just. But in order to do so, we need education. People have to know about their rights to be able to promote their cause. They have to learn how to think critically and how to act in accordance with democratic values from childhood onwards.
Lalaina, you are a co-founder and coordinator of Liberty 32, an independent organization that seeks to strengthen youth participation through education. What is your approach?
Lalaina: In view of this year’s Presidential elections, Liberty 32 has promoted youth participation in politics. Young people often do not know that there is a relation between economic disparities and political decisions. They have to learn about it. Young people have so many opportunities in this world. They are not passive victims-but they can actively cause change beyond the immediate local context.
And what would need to change on an international level?
Lalaina: On an international level, we need to guarantee equal access to the world market. But how can we do that? Globalization is a fact. So we have to figure out what we have to offer on the market. Countries from the Global South have more to offer than natural resources. We need to focus on what we have and what we can do with it. To enter negotiations, we do not need to be like anyone else. If we capitalize on our strengths, we can make profound claims. Only then can we escape the role of the beggar and change the rules of the game.
And which demands would you forward to your government to support your cause?
Lalaina: I think the most important thing is justice. We need Transitional Justice. At the moment, there is a tendency to ignore the past. “We have elections”, they say. “Let’s look forward to the future!” But we cannot forget about the past and continue with business as usual. We need to work through the past. Reparation and reconciliation are instrumental in bringing trust. They may help to close the widening gap between politics and civil society. By participating in the summer school, I have become more confident. I have hope. So my next step is to approach politicians in my country and talk to them. Together, we can work towards solutions for a better and just future.
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