Freeman Cebu Business

Young, wild and free (from corruption)

INTEGRITY BEAT - Henry Schumacher - The Freeman

On August 12, we celebrated the International Youth Day. That was certainly an opportunity to cast a spotlight on the young advocates boldly leading the fight against corruption.

Young people today are impacted by a world brimming with challenges – from the climate crisis to economic inequalities and multiple forms of discrimination, just to name a few. And all these issues are exacerbated by corruption. Despite the complex landscape today’s youth inherit, their energy and passion to challenge the status quo offers hope for the future. This certainly applies to the situation in the Philippines also.

As Transparency International outlined in a recent report, young people are more exposed to bribery and are vulnerable to corruption, as they are involved in nearly every aspect of society, as students, workers and consumers. Within this context, the rising generation is increasingly embracing social change, driving political transformation and making a real impact through tech-savvy solutions, active political engagement and peer-to-peer training.

Growing up in an ever-evolving tech landscape, young anti-corruption fighters know how to utilize digital tools in their advocacy. Take Nigeria, for example, where university students use the Timby app to confront sextortion – the abuse of power to obtain a sexual benefit. This app provides a safe, anonymous space for survivors of sextortion to submit questions and seek guidance. And in Europe, young people from Germany, France, Italy, Macedonia and Lithuania are building watchdog communities against corruption using digital technologies. 

Around the world, young people continuously speak their minds and drive social change, but they require more platforms to amplify their voices. That's why their essential role in policymaking must be recognized. To ensure their demands are heard, youth in Palestine are taking matters into their own hands by monitoring elections at both local and national levels. They are trying to gain skills and knowledge to make an impact in their communities and beyond. 

In some places, there is now a formal recognition of their role. For example, the European Union has taken an important step to ensure young people are part of decision-making processes. The EU Youth Action Plan is the first-ever policy framework for a strategic partnership with young people around the world to shape action and accelerate progress on issues like sustainable development, peace, gender equality and climate action.

But how can young people develop the skills needed to fight corruption? Integrity schools, like the Transparency International School on Integrity in Lithuania, are one way forward. The school is the world’s longest-running and best-known program on transparency, with 1,600 alums from more than 120 countries.

Papua New Guinea is also making strides on that front. Through the Mike Manning Youth Democracy Camps, young people are offered training on a wide range of topics and cross-learning opportunities to strengthen their leadership and advocacy skills. Many students continue to make an impact long after attending the camps by using their experience to improve infrastructure and governance in their schools and communities. 

These are just some of the many ways young people are paving the path towards a less corrupt world. And while the responsibility to fix corrupt systems shouldn’t fall solely on today’s youth, they are driving systemic change. Young people have fresh and innovative perspectives on today’s greatest challenges, and they must be given the opportunity to inform policies that directly affect them – and the next generations to come. 

What about the Philippines? We certainly have the young people ready to create change. It is obvious that the youth from middle class down to the poor are suffering most from the unfairness of corruption and need to be encouraged to fix corrupt systems, making use of examples in other countries like those mentioned above. However, fighting corruption is a dangerous undertaking, as those who are potentially exposed in government and in the rich part of society will fight back. May be Transparency International and the Integrity Initiative should work together to create and support advocacy systems in the Philippines!?!?

Feedback will be appreciated. Contact me at [email protected]

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