Eman Borg, the newly appointed Coordinator of the Commonwealth Youth Gender & Equality Network (CYGEN) from Malta outlines his experience and his hopes for CYGEN moving forwards.
The Commonwealth is not just a union of 56 diverse nations; it is a vibrant community that has recognised the immense potential of its young population. Youth empowerment is one of the great Commonwealth strengths, with youth involvement at center stage for shaping the Commonwealth agenda. The Commonwealth has recognised the importance of enabling young people's voices in shaping policies and decisions that affect youth lives.
I had the great pleasure and honor to be one of 240 youth that were awarded The Queen's Young Leaders award. This award is recognised for my work with LGBTI+ Gozo, the first LGBTI+ organization in the small island of Gozo, as part of the Maltese archipelago. The Royal Commonwealth Society was an enabler; facilitating networks, conversations and opportunities to connect, converse and amplify my work with other Commonwealth youth.
Concurrently, whilst as an Executive Committee Member of CYGEN of which RCS is the Secretariat, I was working at the grassroot level as founder of LGBTI+ Gozo and Secretary General of the National Youth Council of Malta, where I facilitated a number of social platforms for youth to enhance their capacity building skills and played a vital role in the access to sexual health medical services in Gozo. In 2022, I organized the first ever Gozo Pride March, celebration of equal love and a protest toward unjust laws. I was also the pioneer among other youths for the Maltese Parliament to call a State of Climate emergency in Malta and led the first ever Sustainable Development Goals Youth Conference in Malta.
Through all this, as Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society I had the space where I could connect, share ideas and work with other youth, trips to CHOGM 2018 in London and Seychelles working on Reform 53 project were highlights of the diverse tapestry of youth. Now, as the newly appointed Coordinator of CYGEN, the aspiration is to continue the good work of my predecessor, empower the new CYGEN generation and work towards meaningful impact that can be translated into success stories.
CYGEN stands out as an open space where young people are encouraged to take the lead, share their ideas and collaborate on issues that matter. This support empowers youth to develop and implement their own project addressing critical issues such as gender equality, social justice and youth transition. Moreover, CYGEN stands for mainstream gender issues on different topics such as climate change, education and employment.
In conclusion, the promise and the work as Coordinator of CYGEN is that recognition and importance of youth within Commonwealth sphere should not only be a box ticking exercise, or at a minimum a seat at the table but further than that it should ensure that youth voices are heard and acted upon.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Royal Commonwealth Society.