Inspiring through action: Interview with Dr. Mona Bin Ali, IYF Representative in Kuwait

To mark the IYF Day on 20th April, Dr Mona Bin Ali, IYF Representative in Kuwait, talks to us about what motivates her to strive for greater youth empowerment. Dr Bin Ali is a professor at Kuwait University and a renowned young leader in Middle East.

What inspires you to campaign for a greater role for young people in society?
Young people are an essential and vital part of any society and working with them directly is one of the best things that anyone can do.  As a youth representative, working to improve conditions for young people directly affects me: the better the conditions of young people, the higher their productivity and active participation in society.

What does youth leadership mean to you?
It is active participation and giving youth the opportunity to participate. Through being a Representative in Kuwait, I am in a position to participate alongside other young people, working on projects and leading these youth initiatives is indescribable, and that’s why working with other young people and seeing their interaction and development is invaluable.

How do you see the contributions of young people to achieving the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals and the vision of Kuwait 2035?
This may be the advantage of working in the State of Kuwait, where the Kuwait 2035 vision is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals, and therefore we find that most of the current state projects focus directly on achieving that vision.  This helps our work, as our projects are firmly linked to the SDGs and the vision of the State of Kuwait.  Kuwaiti society has a predominantly young demographic where young people represent 72%, and thus young people contribute directly and indirectly to achieving both national and international vision and goals.

Through your experience as a Representative of the IYF in the State of Kuwait, what are the most interesting elements of your work?
Working with young people, listening to their voices and understanding their ideas - their ability to be creative and their love for volunteering and contributing to a batter future for all of us. 

Why do you consider working on youth development a priority for a sustainable future?
In all societies and over time, young people remain the primary engine for any society that wants to develop, advance and progress, and therefore work to develop youth in various fields will remain a priority for me and for all who wish to ensure a sustainable future.

Tell us about the most prominent projects carried out by the IYF country team in Kuwait, which have had the greatest interaction?
The International Youth Federation established a number of activities and events in Kuwait, but the most prominent is the Development Leaders Programme, established by the Federation in collaboration with the Public Authority for Youth in the State of Kuwait.  The main aim of this programme was to build a Kuwaiti youth community familiar with the vision of Kuwait 2035 and the SDGs.  This generation could be empowered with the ability to present the vision and goals to the community through lectures, workshops and awareness campaigns - in order to spread the awareness around these objectives and also to highlight the connection between the vision of Kuwait (a new Kuwait) and the SDGs.

Approximately 100 young people participated in the programme which was divided into two phases for a period of two weeks. The outcomes of the programme were remarkable and it was covered in several TV and radio stations, and we have received a lot of requests to repeat the programme.

Tell us about your vision of the upcoming programs of the IYF in the State of Kuwait?
The International Youth Federation seeks to work by supporting national youth priorities, and in view of what the world is currently going through in the face of the emerging Coronavirus, we realise that the Federation has a lot of work to do through future programmes that can help in such situations.  These include training on crisis prevention and providing humanitarian assistance, creating volunteer schemes in specific areas where the need is high, in addition to other programs that can fulfill emerging and urgent needs at the moment.

Do you have a message for young people?
Young people should strive to achieve their dreams and create the future they want because volunteering is a key to success in the work of community development. Voluntary work helps to build community resilience, and shaping youth personality in various aspects. Fields in volunteering are diverse and therefore young people can explore their interests and discover new areas of their creativity at an early stage of their lives. Moreover, volunteering helps create social connectedness and gives young people a true sense of social responsibility.

Do you have a message for the international community?
Support young people, help them and empower them, since youth are the main driver for the rise of societies and their development, and empowering young people at the beginning of their life is very beneficial for any society. Likewise, support must be extended to instill the values of volunteerism for young people around the world.
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