Objective: To increase understanding and awareness of gender issues in youth structures and organisations in the Commonwealth through the development of a replicable training course on how to achieve change through advocacy and social action, with a particular focus on gender equality.

The development of an experiential capacity building programme via a modular training package and convening and delivery of the pilot – Gender Matters! - in the Indo-Pacific region.

This has enabled 30 Commonwealth young people from 14 countries to become advocacy leaders, with a specific focus on gender equality. The package included knowledge and understanding of international frameworks and mechanisms for gender equality, such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forums of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the skills and strategies to influence and lead change at the local, national and international level.

This programme has also supported participants to develop and deliver local social action projects (SAPs) to put their learning into practice and to cascade to peers and civil society organisations. The pilot was notable for its intersectional dimensions and was innovatory in respect of attracting a very diverse range of youth with different gender identities and youth working on women’s and LGBTQI rights. It also contributed to intra-regional youth networking on gender equality, particularly in respect of small island states in the South Pacific.

The largest component within the RCS’s 2017-18 Youth and Gender Equality Programme was development and delivery of a training programme – Gender Matters! – the aim of which is to enable young emerging leaders to contribute to development with a particular focus on SDG 5.

The training course was modular in design and based on feminist experiential and interactive learning principles. It aimed to deepen participants’ understanding of gender, their knowledge about the different political structures that have the ability to support gender equality, and how to harness them effectively to support this goal. The course toolkit includes different training activities within each module which can be selected and put together to create a flexible learning journey depending on the knowledge and understanding of particular participants and the context.

Gender Matters therefore had a training of trainers component – participants were experiencing and learning from activities which they could then deliver in their own setting back home to peers and civil society organisations as a cascade. Elements of the training course included:

  • The SDG framework, particularly SDG 5 as well as other international frameworks for gender equality such as the Beijing Plan of Action +20, CEDAW and the Commonwealth Charter.
  • Influencing political structures and conducting advocacy.
  • Leadership and advocacy skills associated with making change.
  • Examples of good practice and innovation from young people in promoting gender equality. Development of the training programme capitalised on the gender advocacy and youth leadership development expertise of the RCS and CYGEN. The course had a focus on supporting young women and equality champions of all genders to capacity build them to be better able to contribute to international, national and sub-national decision making, in line with DFAT’s Gender Equality Strategy. The modular nature of the course was also designed to enable participants to transfer content and learning to their own settings in respect of a training of trainers dimension.

The training package proved highly flexible and effective for delivery in Colombo. Facilitators were able to choose and flex content relevant to the learning needs and starting points of participants. Its flexibility means that it is highly adaptable for delivery in other regions of the Commonwealth, and RCS/CYGEN is keen to deliver further iterations in different regions.