Youth Action Team

Youth Action Team 2022

The CIVICUS Youth Action Team is a group of voting members of CIVICUS, led by the youth and acting for the youth to be meaningfully represented and engaged in all of the alliance’s structures, governance, strategies, and activities. But it goes beyond.

The Youth Action Team perceives civic space as the final frontier and wants to make sure the youth have the tools to fully engage here. As a place for co-creation and designing innovative projects, the YAT sets its own agenda and work plan to make sure they develop projects in the areas that are currently more critical for young activists, social innovators and human right defenders.

Report on Youth ActivismTrends

The CIVICUS Youth Action Team recently finished its report on youth trends in activism and civic space expansion (also available in Spanish and French). This paper analyses the physical and digital developments, strategies and emerging practices used by young activists. These findings highlight possible areas to strengthen young people’s role in civic society and help catalyse the construction of healthy and sustainable democracies. While this is the first step to further exploring activists' role in revitalising civic space, much more research needs to be done. Above, you can find the webinar we hosted on the 5th of August, expanding on this discussion.

Youth engagement

The Youth Action Team define youth engagement as:

Meaningful adolescent and youth engagement is an inclusive, intentional, mutually-respectful partnership between adolescents, youth, and adults whereby power is shared, respective contributions are valued, and young people’s ideas, perspectives, skills, and strengths are integrated into the design and delivery of programs, strategies, policies, funding mechanisms, and organizations that affect their lives and their communities.

The Youth Action Team'sgoals

Goal 1: Digitally connect and raise awareness of local youth activists' trends (Advocacy)

Goal 2: To facilitate exchange and solidarity networks among CIVICUS youth members (Learning and capacity development)

Goal 3: To propose an innovative structure for meaningful youth engagement in CIVICUS (Leadership)

The Youth Action Team'svalues and principles

  1. Diversity & Inclusion – We encourage active participation in a diverse environment and enable justice for all, making sure all feel welcome and at home.
  2. Commitment– We honor our commitments and make sure to hold ourselves and the team accountable.
  3. Integrity – We believe and practice respect, trust, honesty and kindness to each other and all our partners and stakeholders
  4. Innovation – We promote disruptive innovation that will create a radical change in the way that youth can participate
  5. Sustainability – We aim for impactful and long-lasting solutions to create positive social change that transforms communities
  6. Authenticity – We show up in the space exactly as we are, bringing our whole selves to each interaction, acknowledging both our limitations and unique skill set.

Current members


Alejandra Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Mexico

#Comitted #Confident #Loving
Leadership Anthem: The Man by Taylor Swift

Alejandra is a Mexican young woman wanting to change the world for better and make our society a more just and inclusive one. She studies International Relations, acts as Coordinator of the Strategic Partnerships & Advocacy Division in MY World México, is a Pyeongchang Youth Peace Ambassador, was selected as a mexican Civil Society Representative during 2022’s UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) and was Mexico’s ambassador for the CIVICUS Youth Ambassador Programme. She has experience in Civil Society representation, Sustainable Development, Partnerships, Peace and Youth Participation. As such, she has been the focal point for several projects on peacebuilding, youth as important peacebuilders and stakeholders, SDGs, international relations, among others.

Namatai Kwekweza, Zimbabwe

#GoodTrouble #HopeInAction #FixTheCountry
Leadership Anthem: Ibotso by Winky D 

Namatai Kwekweza has over 5 years of experience in community organizing, social entrepreneurship and human rights advocacy, mainly focusing on youth and women's rights. She is a disruptive thought leader and consultant who currently serves as the Executive Director of WELEAD Trust, an organization that she founded at age 18 in 2017, which is focused on youth leadership development and advocacy. Namatai is an awardee of the WalkAbout Prize, a fellow at the School of International Futures, a Rotarian, and an award-winning professional public speaker under Toastmasters International in Southern Africa. She holds an executive certificate in diplomacy, protocol, etiquette, and professional branding, as well as a diploma in contemporary diplomacy and international relations from the Zimbabwe Institute of Diplomacy. Namatai is currently studying for a Bachelor of Laws degree at The University of South Africa and aspires to be a constitutional and international human rights lawyer. She also hopes to advance herself in the fields of war studies, strategy and governance. Through the work done at WELEAD Trust, youth have built strong alliances around human rights, feminist solidarity practices, constitutionalism, participation in governance and leader development. In 2020, while working to mobilize young people against the amendment to the constitution via constitutional amendment bill number 2, Namatai was arrested twice. The judicial persecution lasted for two years until February 2022, when all charges were dropped after the state failed to prove a case against the accused.

Vanessa Chisakula, Zambia

#Powerful #Creative #Kind
Leadership Anthem: You Got To Be by Des’ree

Vanessa Chisakula Aka Van-Van, is a multi-award winning, unapologetic page and Spoken word artist and a women's rights champion (Milead fellow 2019), who uses poetry as an activism tool. She is currently a Civicus Youth Action Lab fellow under gender justice and a Center for international private enterprise fellow with a commendable project on peaceful and free elections in the case on the august 12th 2021 Zambian general election. She is co-founder and curator of a Pan-Africanist Social Movement called Word Smash Poetry which promotes youth’s participation in governance issues using Art making her part of the pioneering voices in breaking the barriers in between art and civil society organizations. She has shared her creative works at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66), titled “The Heart of Resilience: The Climate Crisis as a Catalyst for a Culture of Equality”, UN HighLevel Global Conference on Youth-Inclusive Peace Processes and at Girl Rising Earth Day’22 Commemoration. Her celebration of Africa is in her 2020 poetry chapbook called Africana, she has been published in the women scream anthology 20’, published on PePeta Africa’s “our voices’ digital booklet and has an award-winning piece to her name for her piece on women’s rights she titled ‘her place’. Vanessa believes in democracy, leaning on its dependence on participation makes her believe young people who are the majority population and have a huge role to play in seeing to it that true democracy is realized.

Zahra Al Hilaly, Australia

#Kind #Revolutionary #OpenHeart

Leadership Anthem: Alien Superstar by Beyonce 

Zahra is an internationally recognized young leader for her work in gender equality and youth governance. She is the co-founder of the Christmas Island Youth Leadership Project, training young people who are asylum seekers and refugees to become leaders in policy-making. Zahra is also the Chairperson of the WA Government Youth Council representing 600,000 young people in policymaking. She is also a Duke University- Faith for Our Planet Fellow working on the intersection of Islam and climate justice strategies. Zahra work in gender equality has extended globally where she is currently part of the UN Women 30 for 2030 cohort, and has previously sat on the board group representing global youth at the Generational Equality Youth Forum, where 40 billion dollars for gender equality was pledged.  Zahra's work has been published by Vogue, Gucci, and Al Jazeera for being a visionary in peace and security. Zahra is also board director for Missing Perspectives and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. In 2021 she was named the inaugural Under 25 Asian Australian of the Year and in 2022 the Western Australia Young Person of the Year. 

Anna Ferreira, Venezuela

#Integrity #Passion #Resilience
Leadership Anthem: Venezuela by Pablo Herrero Ibarz

Senior of Liberal Studies at Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela. Advocate for transforming realities through meaningful youth civic engagement, and the defense of democracy and equality in Latin America. Dedicated to sustainable education and building leadership networks, with female empowerment as a key goal. Exercised leadership roles in the National Student Movement of Venezuela for over 3 years, in elected positions of representation of youth demands towards national authorities, civil society, and the international community. Designed and implemented non-violence practices and protocols to over 40 student protests with over 1 million participants from 2017 to 2019. Elaborated a diagnosis of 26 universities in 13 states of Venezuela, on behalf of fighting for institutional autonomy and sustainability, as well as building a network for national youth participation.  Currently serving as Director of Female Leadership in the NGO Proyecto Base. Founder of “El Círculo”, a Latin American Female Leadership network with participants from 7 countries, thriving to cooperate and impulse active female leadership and critical mass in the region, based on shared perspectives. Founder of Women in Business Venezuela, an undergraduate network for professional guidance. Member of the Latin American Public Servants Network of the Botín Foundation, and the UNIMET Honorary List.


Ian Makamara, Kenya

#Leader #SocialImpactWarrior #Compassionate
Leadership Anthem: Glorious by Macklemore

Ian Makamara is a human rights activist pursuing justice and sustainability through the action of the law. He has long held the belief that justice cannot be found exclusively within the walls of a courtroom and has therefore sought ways to bring impact to his community through youth engagement and activism. This is because through meaningful youth engagement, our societies will be able to actualise and implement more equitable policies for all.   

His journey started with the UN-SDSN Youth Kenya committee, where he was part of a team that organised multiple capacity building events, youth conferences and charity drives. He then served as the campus director for Strathmore’s inaugural Millennium Fellowship class and later on as MCN’s director of marketing, working to amplify the voices of the youth around the globe. For his efforts dedicated towards social impact, he was selected as a Top 30 under 30 Changemaker in 2019.

Currently, Ian works in the Lawyers Hub, an organisation focused on the nexus between law and technology. He is also a fellow at the Kenya Leadership and Accountability Lab, which is dedicated towards civic activism among the youth. He hopes to utilise his growing expertise in this field so as to contribute to a better future for the youth.


Susan Sabano, Uganda

#Activist #Inclusion #CerebralPalsy
Leadership Anthem: Real Inclusion for people with disabilities

I am Susan Sabano from Uganda, 27 years old, a youth living with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is a disability that affects the part of the brain responsible for body coordination. I serve as a Board member at Show Abilities Uganda (SAU) which is an umbrella organization for the youth with Disability in Uganda. I perform the role of a youth advocate for the inclusion of persons with cerebral palsy where their rights and their potential needs adhere to both National and grass-root levels.

I am passionate about seeing an inclusive society having all youth (the able-bodied and those with Disabilities) being given equal opportunities without Stigmatization and Discrimination and also serving communities beyond themselves for their better wellbeing. This has been an inspiration and a cause to work in every aspect of life to make a significant change in the life of the needy, especially marginalized group.


Mihajlo Matkovic, Serbia

#homoempathicus  #storyteller  #adventurer
Leadership Anthem: Avril Lavigne – We Are Warriors

Mihajlo is a youth worker and activist from Novi Sad, and an apolitical youth representative in the Council for Youth within the Government of the Republic of Serbia, serving his fellow youngsters and making sure their challenges are being acknowledged, voices respected, and needs met. In his many youth-related endeavours, he is focused on youth participation and activism, education, structured dialogue and co-management, and the recognition of the NFE and youth work. At the moment, he is a Board member at the Center for Youth and Social Development “Res Polis” where he puts an emphasis on employability. Besides, he’s a co-founder of Once Upon a Youth programme, writing workshops aimed at the aspiring young authors who have published a collection of engaging short stories so far. Mihajlo likes to joke that – in his free time – he’s pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English language and literature, though, often, pens his own.


Nikita Peck, Germany

#Dedication #Inclusion #Reliability
Leadership Anthem: Whatever it takes – Imagine Dragons

Nikita Leonie Peck studies law in Hamburg, Germany. In 2017, she became a national finalist in the debating competition “Jugend debattiert”. Ahead of the state elections in 2019, she debated the expansion of renewable energies with Brandenburg’s minister-president Dietmar Woidke. As a representative of the Jugend debattiert alumni association, she is involved in the coordination of workshops at schools. Moreover, she was part of the UNICEF Juniorteam Berlin and gained experience as a youth delegate and mentor of UNITE 2030. She is especially passionate about youth participation, quality education, climate action and mental health.


Kejal Savla, India

#SocialArtivist #Integratedbeing #Collectiveleadership
Leadership Anthem: Planting Seeds – Nimo Patel

Kejal is the Convener of The Blue Ribbon Movement (BRM). A youth-led movement re-defining leadership structure and organizing itself as a social movement with the soul-forces of volunteers. It practices non-violent leadership through 100% consent based decision making by its members. The movement builds communities of alternative learning, action and dialogue through its events, programs and campaigns.Over the past 7 years, Kejal has been part of facilitating and implementing its civic action program (The Community Connect Fellowship). It has built leadership in 400+ youth filing 6500+ civic complaints from local communities of Mumbai. She continues to support these youth leaders who now lead initiatives in the movement. Kejal believes in the spirit of togetherness to support and jointly act. She is part of different national and local networks of youth and alternatives in India.She also engages in peace building in South Asia through the South Asian Youth Conference and has co-organized it from 2017 to 2020. She was selected as the youth representative of India at the World Forum for Democracy 2015, France and training program by Friedrich Naumann Foundation, Germany.A world with meaningful youth engagement would be painted with colours of inter-generational wisdom. It would entail re-defining leadership and decision making structures that create space for everyone to learn and creatively act together.


Yi Kang Choo FRSA, Malaysia

#Diversity #Compassion #Empathy #YouthEmpowerment
Leadership Anthem: 倔强孤勇者

Yi Kang Choo is a final year law undergraduate in Queen's University Belfast (QUB) who possesses a genuine interest in Human Rights, Education, and Mental Health-related social work. Originally from Malaysia, he has been actively involved as a volunteer and youth leader in local NGOs, co-organizing major youth learning camps and fund-raising initiatives since 10. In the UK, he is a trained NSPCC Childline Counsellor and holds various leadership positions within student organizations. He frequently advocates for the welfare of international students during the pandemic as the President of the Malaysian Students' Society of Northern Ireland, the Supreme Councillor of the United Kingdom and Eire Council of Malaysian Students, and the Founder of the Welfare Taskforce for Malaysian Students Abroad. He is also a representing delegate of QUB and Northern Ireland (NI) in the 2019 One Young World Summit. As a law student, he was invited by the QUB Human Rights Centre to contribute to NI's 2021/22 Modern Slavery Strategy, and he is also actively supporting pro-bono cases worldwide as an International Lawyers Project Legal Student Fellow. Finally, he is a member of the Global Coalition of Youth, Peace, and Security Working Group co-lead by the OSGEY.

Youth Action Team 2021 - 2022


Daniel Nwaeze, Nigeria

#Visionary #BuildNarratives #YouthPower
Leadership Anthem: Follow The Leader – The Soca Boys

Daniel is the media and communications coordinator at Afrika Youth Movement; a youth-led movement with over 10,000 members in over 41 countries and 15 country hubs. He is passionate about everything youth, media, and information literacy. As part of his role, Daniel was responsible for media engagement of the movement and contributing to policy frameworks on the continent from the African Union to national initiatives and alliances including the Fight Inequality Youth Alliance (Denmark) and Africans Rising (Tanzania). In 2017, Daniel began engaging with UNESCO and GAPMIL to promote media and information literacy among young people globally. Daniel Nwaeze served on the CIVICUS Youth Action Team from 2019-2020.


Lilia Khazri, Tunisia

#Energetic #Ambitious #EngagedInCivilSociety
Leadership Anthem: Coldplay - Sky Full of Stars

Lilia Khazri is a 21-year old social activist based in Tunisia advocating gender equality, peace building and youth empowerment. She is an international relations student who is very passionate about social activism, diplomacy and changemaking. Throughout her journey with in civic engagement, Lilia worked with civil society NGOs at both national and international scale, including : IBuild Africa, Girl Up, NOW4Humanity, Paper Airplanes, AMEL Institute and many more. Currently, she is the country ambassador of Tunisia in Peace First Organization as well as a project coordinator for the Cultural Club of Ali Belhouane Tunis. In advancing the cause of youth empowerment, she is leading SPEAK UP TUNISIA and keeps believing that meaning youth engagement can build a harmonious and advanced world where everyone is included, respected and heard.


Mehjar Azzouz, Sweden

#YouthLeader #HealthcareWorker #Musician
Leadership Anthem: Mississippi goddam - Nina Simone

Mehjar is a youth leader based from Sweden where he’s studying medicine and global health. He is currently sitting as a board member of Amnesty International Sweden. Mehjar started as an activist in high school working with the human rights movement through different organizations such as Amnesty, the Red Cross Youth, and FIAN-Sweden. He is especially interested in the right to healthcare and its intersection with other human rights. As his activism expanded, he started becoming active in more international work through IFMSA, Terre des Hommes, Amnesty’s international networks, and meetings. As he started working on a more strategic level, the grass-root is still integrated within his work as he knows how essential it is. Mehjar has always seen youth engagement as an important part of his activism and a crucial part of the current world of activism. We are pivotal to creating change and meaningful youth engagement should systematically see us, amplify us, and listen to us. Youth involvement and more youth in leadership positions will make the movement stronger and better.


René Díaz, Honduras

#Activism #Passion #Diversity
Leadership Anthem: We Are the Champions by Queen

René Díaz is 29 years old and a master's student in economics. He is the founder of Ayudando a Honduras, renextbomblog, pazartistas and other projects in his country promoting social change and peacebuilding. He is a strong LGBTI activist, promoter of human rights, peace, justice and social impact. In recent years, he has focused on working closely with social entrepreneurship for the benefit of the most vulnerable adolescents and young people in Honduras.


Sandra Sierra, Colombia

#SocialJustice #Science4ThePeople #CommunityWork
Leadership Anthem: La Vida Vale la Pena – Petrona Martínez

Sandra is a physics engineer, social human right activist and teacher. She has been a social and human right activist since the age of 17 participating and coordinating protests in Colombia for education, human rights and against police brutality. She is a strong advocate of putting science and engineering at the service of the people and not the big companies and believes and has worked for building community sustained economies. She participates in Hands on the Field, a grassroots organization committed to putting knowledge of university students and teachers at work to serve poor peasants and rural development. She is also cofounder of the People Support Network, a community organization that builds on solidarity and self-management to collectively face poverty, discrimination, health and other problems encountered specially by women and youth in poor neighborhoods in Colombia. She believes in the power of civil society movements and the leading role youth takes in them.


Sanaya Patel, India

#kind #imperfectfeminist #listener
Leadership Anthem: I'm Still Standing - Elton John

Sanaya is a youth activist and a dispute resolution lawyer practicing in Mumbai, India. She is a strong advocate for gender justice and works at the intersection of law and development. Sanaya is the Chief Legal Officer at One Future Collective (OFC), a feminist, youth-led not-for-profit, nurturing radical kindness in people, organizations, and communities, where she is involved with legal compliance, strategy, research, and community organizing. During the covid-19 lockdown, she has led OFC's open mic nights, facilitating dialogue on themes such as labor, care and rebuilding, through poetry. Sanaya believes that art, poetry, and music have the power to transform communities.

Youth Action Team 2019 - 2020


Alan Jarandilla Núñez, Bolivia

Alan is a lawyer and passionate human rights defender from Bolivia. He serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy of the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning, and is the Founder of Change the System (CTS), a Bolivian youth-led organization working towards sustainable development, human rights and youth participation, from a systemic change perspective. He is a vocal advocate for human rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and meaningful youth engagement in decision making. He believes that an intersectional and holistic approach to global issues is fundamental for addressing the issues that are central to his work. He has followed and led advocacy strategies in different international processes.


Dragana Jovanovska, North Macedonia

Dragana is a Management Board member at the Center for Intercultural Dialogue (CID), a youth-led organisation in North Macedonia working with young people from different ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds in a post-conflict society. As part of her role, she is running an open youth centre, MultiKulti (MultiКулти), in the city of Kumanovo, where she works on her fields of expertise, including intercultural dialogue, human rights and youth participation by using integrated education. She also works as an educator on these themes with youth and adults at a local, national and international level. You can find her on Instagram: @jovanovska91.


Jelena Mitrović, Serbia

Jelena has been an activist and volunteer since the age of 14. She has gained experience in different organisations, participating locally in the Becej Youth Association and nationally as a Governing Board Member of the National Youth Council of Serbia. She currently serves at Group COME OUT in the city of Novi Sad as a dedicated and certified youth worker with LGBT+ youth, and she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Her priority is to advocate for equal opportunities for all, and ensuring that youth voices are not only heard, but also listened to and accepted in decision making processes. You can find her on Instagram @jelena_mitrovicc or Twitter @_jelenamitrovic.

Joshua Alade, Nigeria

Joshua is a sustainability advocate and a Positive Youth Development Trainer with NextGen Africa Initiative. He obtained a Bachelor's degree from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He currently serves as a Program Officer at Sahara Foundation and the Project Coordinator of the Nigeria Youth SDGs Network. Through his work, he advocates for the rights of young people from disadvantaged communities and their active participation in the developmental agenda of his country. He tweets via @iamjoshuaalade.

Justin Francis Bionat, Philippines

Justin is a passionate human rights defender from the Philippines. He is currently taking his Masters of Arts in Human Rights and Democratisation from the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Thailand. He has had local, national and regional experience in human rights work for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities. He currently works as regional coordinator of Youth Voices Count (YVC), a regional network of young LGBTIQ persons in the Asia-Pacific region working on several sexual and reproductive health and human rights issues. He brings together both field and academic experience in human rights.

Natasha Chaudhary, India

Natasha is the Co-Director at Haiyya, a grassroots campaign consulting organisation based in India. She oversees larger organizational scaling and growth strategy and works on fundraising. She is a trainer, coach and strategy consultant having worked across different programs, including sexual and reproductive health and rights for women, women's voting rights, the youth climate movement, resourcing and incubation models and many more. She deeply cares about gender, health and caste issues with a focus on intersectional leadership and designing interventions that shift away from traditional service delivery models. She holds a Masters degree in Development Studies from the University of Sydney, where she advocated for and worked in the implementation of a sexual harassment policy as the Women’s Officer.

Wiem Chamsi, Tunisia

Wiem is a Master's student in Management of Organizations with a focus on NGOs and civil society development. She studied social entrepreneurship in the University of Connecticut in the USA and she was an Ashoka Fellow. She has a passion for driving change and youth empowerment. She was chosen as a global innovation pioneer with the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent societies. She has taken part in many international youth programs (such as the North Africa UN Model, the Mediterranean University, AIESEC, Hult Prize, UNDP...) by working on solving different global issues and advocating for youth participation. She also launched the Youth For Change Sousse/Tunisia initiative to promote investment in sustainable development through youth leadership.