The IMF and Civil Society
CSOs and Youth Leaders at the 2011 Spring Meetings
May 26, 2011
This year’s Spring Meetings saw the attendance of more than 300 representatives of civil society organizations from over 50 countries around the world. For the first time, the IMF Fellowship Program involving some 35 sponsored CSOs included a special invitation and program for youth leaders from emerging and developing countries, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa.
Each year, the Fund, jointly with the World Bank, sponsors civil society organizations from low-income and other countries to participate in the Spring and Annual Meetings. The purpose of the CSO Fellowship Program is to increase the participation of regional and national CSOs to strike a balance with the traditional participation of international CSOs. This year’s program included a fellowship for 11 youth leaders as part of the Fund’s efforts to engage youth in discussing issues relevant to them, particularly in light of the recent revolutionary youth movements springing up across the Middle East and North Africa.
CSOs and Youth Leaders’ Fellowship Program
The IMF CSOs and Youth Leaders’ Fellowship Program included a capacity-building session facilitated by various IMF staff speakers. There was also a discussion on specific Fund policies, including forthcoming IMF Board reviews of surveillance and conditionality. Among the highlights in the CSO/youth program were meetings with the Managing Director of the IMF and the President of the World Bank, as well as Executive Directors of both institutions.
Participants from the Middle East and North Africa—including Tunisia and Egypt—also led various sessions, focusing on such topics as “Revolution 2.0,” “Youth: Challenges in a Globalized World.” In the dialogue focused on the global impact of the youth movements, participants shared personal experiences and hopes for the future.
A Sampling of Youth Leader Profiles
Here are short profiles of some of the 11 accomplished youth leaders who participated in this year’s program:
- Samar Mezghanni, a well-known Tunisian writer, has published 14 books and has written over a 100 short stories for children, some of which have been turned into a TV program for children. She found this first youth leaders’ fellowship to be “ a great initiative and the beginning of a fruitful relationship,” which she hoped would be an avenue to provide feedback and for sustained interest in the needs of people, especially in the Arab region. Read Mezghanni’s thoughts on her participation in the meetings.
- Shiv Bhaskar, from India, is a the founder and creater of The Viewspaper—a citizen-journalism-based youth media company. The Viewspaper network, read by more than 150,000 young people a month, has emerged as one of India’s largest youth paper, providing a platform for the youth to share their views and express their opinions.
- Fatoumata Sangho, from Mali, is president of her own CSO Ali Mali, who counts among her many achievements, being selected as one of 117 delegates to President Obama’s 2010 African Youth Leaders Forum. For Sangho, the Youth Fellowship is crucial because it allows young people to gain insights to what is happening in the world. “It also allows us as young leaders in our countries to make informed decisions and raise awareness on important issues within our communities,” she said.
- Nikola Pandurić, from Croatia, is a research assistant at the University of Zagreb and has been involved in CSOs since high school. He currently volunteers as president of the Croatian Youth Network, a national youth council with 59 youth leaders and youth work-oriented organizations. He has also been active on the local, regional, and European level.
- Tanya Rebolledo-Branski, from Mexico, is a project manager the Europe Bureau of Espacio de Vinculacion, A.C. in Paris, France. She has previously worked in different international public, civic, and academic organizations, including Doctor of the World UK, the Mexican Delegation to the OECD, and the Competitiveness Department of the Municipality of Pueblo, Mexico. From these different roles, she has developed policy analysis, institutional research, coordination, client engagement and logistic functions.
- Pradip Pariyar, from Nepal, is the President of the Association of Youth Organization Nepal and founder/chairperson of the Nepal Youth Forum. He has worked with various youth organizations, donor communities, and government bodies, and other stakeholders with a view to bringing them together and facilitating communication strategies for piece building in such countries such as Nepal, Pakistan, and Timor. He also runs various youth leadership training and workshops.
- Maria Staszkiewicz, from the Czech Republic, currently works as the Director of the Association for International Affairs, a young foreign policy think tank/NGO in her home country, where manages, represents, and strategically plans for the Association founded to promote research and education in the field of international relation as well as civic engagement.
Overall, the feedback from the CSOs and youth leaders was positive. Many participants also appreciated the opportunity to network in a rich, multicultural environment. For the IMF, it has been an insightful and refreshing experience, listening to youth leaders engage with staff and managers to explore new ways of approaching and communicating with these key audiences—the next generation of leaders.
Planning work is now underway for the 2011 Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, which will take place in September this year in Washington, D.C.