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Hi Katie,

The project sounds really interesting and I really enjoyed reading the proposal. I am working for a small London-based peacebuilding organisation and we work a lot with young people throughout our projects so I definitely agree with you on the importance of empowering young people. Well done to your organisation for adopting this approach as well!

I am unfortunately not an expert in branding or marketing but drawing from my experience, I can share a few insights on making sure your project can be as inclusive as possible and include a lot of different actors. A good starting point is to start mapping the actors in the environment you are working in. Once you have a clear picture of what an average community looks like, you can better decide who you want to engage with and develop strategies around that.

You raised a good point when you wrote that you were a bit wary of solutions coming from the outside and being imposed on beneficiaries. I think it will be really important to ensure ownership of the project by young people by making sure they are given the opportunity to feed into the project. Organising initial consultations or a start-up working and making sure you regularly hold feedback sessions/evaluations will be essential to achieve this. If you are able to provide some trainings to young people in financial management or marketing, it might also be a good way to ensure long-term commitment and sustainability of the project, while at the same time further empowering youth.

As you go through the project, it would be good to show impact at any early stage and to collect any material that can be used for external communication (stories, pictures, …). This could be really useful to reach potential partners and build bridges with other sectors.
Hope you will find some of these advices useful and relevant to your work!

Good luck with the project.

All the best,

Laura

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Laura commented on Integrity Institute

Hi Nicole,

I am working for Peace Direct, a peacebuilding organisation based in London. With our local partners, we work a lot on similar types of projects and i would happily share a few ideas on the 3 unanswered questions/challenges mentioned above. I am not that familiar with the context in Ghana but hopefully you will find these useful !

1. Our Beneficiary Feedback interviews showed us the children who know about their rights are the ones who are in school, and those who aren’t in school are the ones who know nothing about their rights, so how can the Integrity Institute target children who are not in school and therefore least informed about their rights?

It is indeed not always easy to work with kids who have no knowledge about their rights and to approach them with a new approach which is often met with reluctance, more especially in remote communities where education level is really low. Drawing from our work in Congo, it is important to build long-term links with the community leaders to ensure that the project is understood and accepted within the community. Without community endorsement, it will be hard to approach kids who are not going to school as they do not have any influential figures to look at besides the community leaders (as opposed to the ones going to school who have their teachers for guidance and advise for example). Discussing with the parents and building close relationship with them is also a really important step to make sure you will then be able to talk to the kids who are not going to school. Doing a start-up workshop at the beginning of the project would be a good idea to build a common understanding of what the project means to achieve.

2. How can we best address the cultural implications of age hierarchies that exist in Ghana? What examples do you have of successful approaches to challenging this hierarchy to create a space for youth to have a voice?

Related to the first question, a lot of these issues are tight to whether or not there will be community-buy in of the project. In a lot of communities, an organisation cannot start a project without ensuring it is benefiting from full community support. I am not familiar with the specific context in Ghana but I would advise you spend time explaining the project to the different groups within the community, including the elders one, and find a way to integrate them into the projects so they do not feel completely left out.

We have seen in our work in the Great Lakes region that a lot of young people are stigmatised within their community and tend to be seen as trouble-makers if they do not give back to the community. Another approach could then be around showing the older generations that youth can have an added value within their community. This can be done by setting up youth club or community mobilisation groups where young people work together on a project (road or market rehabilitation, depending on where the community needs are) that will benefit the entire community. In our work in Congo, this approach has helped eased the tensions between different generations and young people have been more accepted as valuable community members.

3. Beyond reserving spaces for a balanced and equitable gender distribution of attendees, how can we continue to disrupt the power imbalance between genders that is prevalent in Ghana? For example, you may notice in our Student Feedback Interview, Obed almost always answers before Faustina. We believe this is representative of classroom dynamics in Ghana, and would like feedback on how to best approach this cultural norm?

Disrupting the power imbalance is a long-term project and one needs to do in an appropriate way so as not to add fuel on the fire. This is definitely not easy. How about organising some workshops for the kids at school on basic women rights and on the importance of gender equality? I think it would also be important to organise the same workshops within the communities where the kids are from as many kids tend to mimic the behaviour they see around. For sustainable and long-term changes, this issue would need a project on its own but doing some advocacy at the grassroots level would be a good starting point.

I really enjoyed reading about your project ! Keep up the good work !

Best,

Laura