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The role of youth work: Employability, peacebuilding and gender in Europe and beyond
an article by Ana Afonso, CEIPES and UNOY Peacebuilders

After one year working on the subject of social entrepreneurship, peacebuilding and gender it is time now for UNOY Peacebuilders to make a balance of what has been done and what has been achieved so far. Hence the main purpose of this article is to give a contribution and boost youth work in terms of the mentioned subjects.

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The conclusions and recommendations hereby suggested are a result of the project ‘Voices of change: Employability, peacebuilding and gender in Europe and beyond’, which foresaw the mobility of a youth worker from CEIPES (Italy) to UNOY Peacebuilders (Netherlands) with the aim to exchange know-how and reinforce the cooperation between the two partner organisations. In the framework of this project the youth worker collaborated in several of the activities implemented by UNOY on the subjects of youth employability, social entrepreneurship for peacebuilding and gender equality.

Starting from a personal reflection on the relevance of this type of mobility it can be said that the experience was certainly meaningful and my recommendation as the youth worker directly involved would be to continue to finance this type of long-term individual mobility. Differently from the more common job shadowing experience, which is shorter, a project of this kind allows for so much to happen in terms of professional development, intercultural experience, networking and personal development. Naturally the conditions for this to happen need to be put in place, such as a good partnership and a serious working plan that all parties respect and follow. And as every project requires there should be a constant monitoring and adjustment to new needs and challenges.

Furthermore this project constitutes a real contribution to the advancement and recognition of youth work in Europe. Although this is often a difficult dimension to evaluate, as it is quite subjective and hard to grasp, I have decided to address it in this article hopeful that my reflections and conclusions might become useful to other youth workers and those policy makers who are interested to develop policies informed by youth work practical experiences.

The most important dimension touched by this project was the relevance of youth work to the field of social entrepreneurship, with a special focus on the peacebuilding and gender dimensions. Social entrepreneurship is quite a trendy concept nowadays and many youth organisations in Europe have it as a strategic priority in their annual working plans. Yet as youth workers we should ask ourselves an important question, that is ‘whether or not youth work has a real role to play in this field and what kind of role would that be?’.

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Question(s) related to this article:

Social entrepreneurship, Can it help create a culture of peace?

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This report was posted on November 24, 2014.