All in Cyprus: “An inclusive society with empowered women and youth is on the way”
All in Cyprus is a new intercommunal advocacy group established during the Young Leaders in Action initiative, which provided a space for young Cypriots from both communities of the island to brainstorm different ideas and put in practice initiatives to help increase participation of women and youth in peace activism on the island.
Like all groups, “All in Cyprus” is young and diverse: Ümran Avni and Meryem Ozkan work for NGOs on the island, Öykü Tural works as a general practitioner, Izge Shanlitourk is a PhD student and Era Georgiade and Mustafa Mistiki Araz are studying abroad.
All in Cyprus started after its members noticed that “there are many active social initiatives in Cyprus, however, there is a lack of awareness about these initiatives and understanding the meaning of activism. We aim to create one uniting hub to bring together the activists and events amongst local communities and diaspora, making activism in Cyprus stronger and easier to access,” Era explains.
The Young Leaders in Action seeks to strengthen women and young people’s contribution to discussions on peace and security, with a focus on peacebuilding, social action, leadership, negotiation, and mediation processes.
For Meryem, “when people living on the different sides tried to define the problems in Nicosia and how to improve them, it was shocking to see how similar, yet how different, our lifestyles are and how much being able to verbalise problems help build bridges and lead to forming beautiful relationships.”
When asked about joining like-minded people, Ümran explains: “to work with a vibrant group of young people passionate about meeting each other and collaborating together to make Cyprus a better place made us all feel very fortunate and grateful.”
The Young Leaders in Action proposes to equip young Cypriots with the tools necessary to support young people to develop their own intercommunal projects and with small grants to begin the implementation of their ideas.
For Izge, “It was amazing to get to know people who hold similar perspectives and I have been impressed by the funding offered, which presents a possibility of not only learning, but actually pursuing activities in real life.”
Through several workshops since early January, these young people had the opportunity to understand issues related to the inclusion of women and youth on the island and develop their own suggestions to act upon what they consider to be relevant topics to increase their participation.
For Öykü, “this programme shows us that we are not alone in our purpose, by bringing together young people who look at the future with hope, who have an enormous amount of energy and motivation to change the world for the better.”
Mistiki, one of the group members, concludes with a message: “these sessions showed me how when Cypriots want something, they make it happen. Therefore, a more inclusive society with more representation of marginalised groups and empowered women and youth is on the way, get ready!”
The Young Leaders in Action is being organized by UNFICYP, in partnership with the British Council and the British High Commissioner in Cyprus and will run until next month.