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Youth leaders of South Asia gather in Colombo to enrich equality and sustainable change

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Implementers of change from across South Asia, who are driven towards developing impactful initiatives to promote democracy, sustainability and human rights, gathered at Barefoot Café in an event organised by The Swedish Institute (SI). Participants of the ‘Young Connectors of the Future’ (YCF) program shared their insights, strategies and solutions on pinpointed challenges, following two days of work with six innovative Sri Lankan organisations as collaborative partners.

YCF 2019 saw participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka join together, with ongoing training of three weeks in Sweden and one week in Sri Lanka. The collaborative partners comprised the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, Family Planning Association, The Good Market, Venture Frontier Lanka, Roar Media, and Act 4, Theatre for Change.

“We are really impressed by the immense hard work that both participants and collaborative partners have channelled into the process of discovering inventive sustainable solutions,” said YCF Program Manager Ulrika Engström.

The YCF 2019 challenges included: 


  • Innovations and funding solutions for ocean related ventures and sustainable waterways.
  • Solutions to enhance active engagement with peace building activists on online platforms. 
  • Inventive approaches to produce accessible, engaging and relevant education materials on modern contraceptive methods and sexual/ reproductive health. 
  • Tackling Facebook’s ever-changing newsfeed algorithm to impact the organic reach of content to varied audiences. 
  • Replicating the practices of a Sri Lankan social enterprise in other South Asian countries
  • Scaling up and exploring ways towards sustainable financing models for a not-for profit organisation 


YCF is an inter-cultural leadership program that is designed to uplift youth leaders in South Asia, and was launched by SI. It provides participants with the necessary networking tools to achieve lasting impacts in their work to shape a society that is grounded on equality and suitability. 

“YCF has enabled us to reach our goals and reflect more on the reasons behind the work we are determined to accomplish, and the movements we are trying to create in our mission to achieve a sustainable and harmonious society that rejoices in its diversity,” stated participant Dr. Sneha Rooh from India. “Instead of focusing on fixing the problems of just India, the powerful networking YCF provided has allowed me to view South Asia as a single unit that can collectively work together to address the problems of our region as a whole,” she further expressed.

Throughout their week of training in Sri Lanka, the young leaders have ensured that other issues of global relevance also be discussed. On Wednesday, 27 February an event titled ‘Qisse KrantiKali: Stories of Young Feminist Activism in the Global South’ was organised by Rachel Bali, Co-founder of KrantiKali and one of the participants of YCF 2019. The panel discussion focused on young feminist activism in South Asia through the activist journeys experienced by the panellists in their respective countries.

“This program is as much about personal development as it is about professional development. In addition to growing as a leader that is equipped with innovative tools and perspectives to tackle imperative global and social issues, we also strive to encourage personal growth and instil a renewed sense of confidence and encourage out-of-the-box thinking,” said Engström, elaborating on YCF’s purpose.

The Swedish Institute seeks to establish collaboration and lasting relations with other countries via strategic communication and exchange in the fields of culture, education, science and business. All participants are experts in their field, with 200 young leaders currently in an active alumni network.


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