Youth Star Cambodia ‘Setting New Norms’

Youth Star Cambodia successfully held its conference on Youth Leadership for Violence Free Communities on Wednesday March 16, 2011. The conference highlighted the findings of this pilot programme with the objective of ‘setting new norms’ supported by the UN Trust Fund for the Prevention of Gender Based Violence.

The three main programme components focused on increasing education, acting on domestic violence and finally promoting healthy peer relationships. This particular component acted as an adhesive in bringing together the other two components and producing positive results.

The pilot programme elevated the personal development of the Youth Star volunteers, who were the primary beneficiaries, but additionally, the rural communities they served developed proactive measures to prevent domestic violence and create zero tolerance communities.

The opening remarks were given by UN Women Programme Officer, Ms Freya Larson who commented on the incidence of violence against women and girls as widely entrenched in many cultures worldwide and cutting across all ages and economic strata. Youth Star’s Project and Process M&E Consultant, Ms. Betty Langeler presented the lessons learnt before three Panelists shared their experiences; each panel was followed by a Question & Answer segment. Many of the Youth Star volunteers did accentuate that time management skills helped explore strategies to attract participation from communities and consequently behaviours changed with community youth serving as role models. Through Youth Star training in concurrence with the Karol & Setha model of training, the Youth Star Volunteers were able to transfer key skills to community.

The Youth Star Executive Director Ms Khemra SOM added that “We hope that the momentum and energies created by this conference will be sustained and carried forward for a long time to come.” She said she was very proud of success of the programme but emphasised on the need for more panels and resources to continue the program on a long term basis.

H.E Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi; Minister of Women’s Affairs closed the ceremony by urging everyone to play their role in promoting social morality. She congratulated Youth Star for this program approach adding that “Violence should not be responded to by the same violent means”. The need for education as a continuous lifelong process was further highlighted as a means to curb the violence witnessed in many communities. Her Excellency drew on the numerous parallels of the Pilot Programme with the ‘Safe village Campaign’ which is being organised by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

Promoting social morality contributes to reducing criminal activities. She also kindly gave her time to respond to a number of reporters after the Conference.

The programme achieved its goals and ‘set new norms’ and ‘created space for youth contribution and leadership’. Communities are now learning and engaging one another on education and issues of Domestic Violence. Young men and women are working together on these issues are increasingly considered a positive resource to their communities.

published on March 16, 2011