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Youth council for 1.2 billion young people elected

25 November 2015

The Commonwealth Youth Council, representing national youth bodies from 53 countries, today elected a new leadership team at its General Assembly at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in Malta.

Kishva Ambigapathy, a youth leader and engineering student from Malaysia, was chosen as Chairperson, and will be supported by an executive committee of other elected youth leaders including representatives of Africa and Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, and Pacific regions.

The Commonwealth Youth Council is a coalition of national youth councils and other youth-led bodies and the recognised voice of the more than 1.2 billion young people aged 29 or under in Commonwealth member countries.

The nine-person executive is responsible for advocating on behalf of young people on issues such as employment, equality and climate change, and encouraging youth-led action on development challenges throughout the Commonwealth. Their two-year mandate runs until 2017.

Speaking after the announcement of the results, Mr Ambigapathy said: “I feel really excited and blessed by the support given to me by all the youth delegates. Together we will move towards a more sustainable and inclusive council. My priority is to deliver on the policy recommendations and action plans that we have developed over the past few days, in the time frame that we have set.”

The General Assembly was a key component of the five-day 10th Commonwealth Youth Forum - jointly organised by the Government of Malta, the Commonwealth Youth Council and the Commonwealth Secretariat - held on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta from 27 to 29 November.

One of the new executive’s first tasks will be to present the recommendations and priorities of the 400 youth leaders who attended the Youth Forum and General Assembly to Commonwealth leaders.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said: “On behalf of the Commonwealth family I welcome the new Commonwealth Youth Council executive to office. Those aged under 30 comprise more than 60% of the Commonwealth’s population. The need is greater than ever for youth to have a strong voice in global decision-making processes. The Commonwealth Youth Council provides such a voice, and helps ensure that the aspirations of our young people are represented and heard, and that practical action is taken to meet their needs."

#CONGRATULATIONS to the new @Official_CYC team. #CYF2015 #WhatNext? https://t.co/6A6ApGOAgO

— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) November 25, 2015

The elected candidates were:
  • Chairperson – Kishva Ambigapathy from Malaysia
  • Vice Chairperson, Policy, Advocacy and Projects – Nikoli Jean-Paul Edwards from Trinidad and Tobago
  • Vice Chairperson, Partnerships and Resources – Faith Manthi from Kenya
  • Vice Chairperson, Inclusion and Engagement – Angelique Pouponneau from Seychelles
  • Regional Representative, Africa and Europe – Sharonice Davinnia Busch from Namibia
  • Regional Representative, Asia – Pravin Nikam from India
  • Regional Representative, Caribbean and the Americas – Sujae Boswell from Jamaica
  • Regional Representative, Pacific – Christina Giwe from Papua New Guinea
  • Representative, Special Interest Groups – David Aoneaka from Papua New Guinea

Official youth delegates from each country voted on the composition of the nine-member executive, with polls opening on Tuesday 23 November and closing on Wednesday 24 November. Delegates had the opportunity to see the candidates in action first-hand during election primaries. Campaigning began in October when the 45 candidates released their manifestos.

Commonwealth Secretariat Youth Director Katherine Ellis said: “In just two short years, the Commonwealth Youth Council has become a leading voice for young people’s interests globally. I want to thank Ahmed and his team, and all the member organisations of the CYC, for their hard work and sustained advocacy.”

Ms Ellis added: “The Commonwealth Secretariat looks forward to working with the new executive to ensure that the voices of young people continue to be heard at the highest levels, and that youth-led action across the Commonwealth is supported and recognised.”

The Commonwealth Youth Council was first established in 2013 with the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat. It was endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their biennial summit in Sri Lanka that year as an autonomous, youth-led organisation.

Find out more about the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Forum

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