Chairperson’s Official Visits in Africa


Uganda – 26 July 2017

Kishva Ambigapathy with Lilian Aber, Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Uganda, Rugumayo Edson, Co-Chair of the Youth Leaders Forum Taskforce, Lawrence Muli, Youth Division Commonwealth Secretariat & Sam Ogwal. They had fruitful discussions on the strategic agenda for the Commonwealth Youth Leaders Forum, the CYC, and youth opportunities in Uganda.




Kenya – 27 – 28 July 2017

The Chairperson met with Tony Rilley from the British Council in Kenya to discuss the CYC’s impact on youth in Kenya and the Future Leaders program by the British Council.

The Vice Chairperson of Partnerships and Resources, Faith Manthi, and Kishva visited the United Nations Headquarters in Africa. They met the Director-General Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia & had productive meetings with Dr. Abdul Rahman Lamin and the team at UNESCO Eastern Africa.

Kishva was also welcomed by the Kenya National Youth Council Chairperson, Dishon Atemo-Dfo, and the executive board in Nairobi. The Youth Council and Kishva had discussions about youth development and empowerment to strengthen their relationship and empower youth in Kenya.

The Chairperson had a casual catch-up session with Commonwealth Youth Network Leaders and recipients of the President’s Award Kenya to discuss the Commonwealth Youth Leaders Forum and how the CYC can engage with local leaders to impact more Kenyan youth.

Kishva Ambigapathy met with the Directorate, Ministry of Public Service, Youth & Gender of Kenya on the works of the Commonwealth Youth Council and had very fruitful discussions on partnerships to help the Commonwealth youth. 


Lesotho – 11 August 2017

During the Chairperson’s Africa Tour, Kishva was welcomed by the Hon. Deputy Prime Minister Monyane Moleleki; he also had productive meetings with Lesotho’s Minister of Gender & Youth, Sports & Recreation Hon. Kabelo Mafura, Ministry’s Principal Secretary Fetsane Seoka & Johane Mahao Executive Secretary of Lesotho Youth Council. Kishva discussed the work of the CYC and opportunities for youth in Lesotho.





Virtual engagement with youth in Cameroon – 12 August 2017

This year, on International Youth Day, with the theme “Youths Building Peace” for International Youth Day, Kishva Ambigapathy was invited to join youth via Skype at the Local Youth Center in Cameroon. Kishva spoke about the CYC, and about the importance of this day in recognizing the efforts of young people in conflict prevention and countering violent extremism. 

Opening of the IAMABLE Conference in Antigua & Barbuda

Monday 4th December 2017

The #IamABLE campaign for youth with disabilities stems from the request of young people from across the Commonwealth including Antigua and Barbuda’s Commonwealth National Youth Delegates Jonelle Walsh and Kurt Williams. The campaign seeks to contribute towards the development of a more inclusive society by addressing the marginalisation and discrimination of people with disabilities in the Commonwealth. Only one year into the campaign, we are in Antigua and Barbuda to discuss current status, challenges and solutions to problems being faced by youth with disabilities in the country, and around the Commonwealth. This conference is a culmination of the partnership between the High Commission of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Kingdom, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Commonwealth Youth Council.

Moderating the opening ceremony, Her Excellency. Ms. Karen Mae- Hill, High Commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda to the United Kingdom said, “Working with the Government and the Commonwealth Youth Council over the past months to formulate this conference has been very inspirational for me, and has changed my perception of disability.” Stressing that people with disabilities should be treated with respect and be given equal opportunities, she encouraged the audience to look at the ability and not the disability. She also acknowledged the presence of H.E. Sir Rodney Williams, Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda and Lady Williams, who serve as patrons of several disability groups and organisations on the Island.

This idea of empowerment of people with disabilities is not new to Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua and Barbuda is one of the first countries to have a blind permanent representative to the United Nations, and it was only fitting then that Ambassador Dr. Aubrey Webson shared his experiences with the gathering. He commended the current efforts that included paratransit services, accessible airport facility and the legislation to realise the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was ratified in 2016. He expressed his optimism, and encouraged the participants to be hopeful, tolerant and more inclusive, besides working together to change what it means to have a disability. British High Commissioner to Antigua and Barbuda, H.E. Janel Douglas emphasised the support of the UK to the IAMABLE campaign and announced that disability would be a topic of focus at the Heads of Government Meeting in London in April 2018.

Ron Tatar, Director of the Calvin Ayre Foundation, the platinum sponsors of the conference, expressed the organisation’s pleasure to be associated with the campaign. He expressed his eagerness to learn about the outcome document and action plan that seek to provide tangible and concrete implementation measures as a result of this conference.

Angelique Pouponneau, Seychelles, the vice-chairperson for inclusion and engagement of the Commonwealth Youth Council traced the origins of the campaign and shared her experience organising the conference. Highlighting several success stories of people with disabilities, she reinforced the rationale for the campaign, and implored young people to bring solutions to the table, to collaborate, to be willing to join organisations that can make a difference.

This was followed by an inspirational talk by Aaron Philip, a 16-year-old high achiever, model, writer and disability rights advocate. He encouraged people with disabilities to accept who they are and be proud about it. “I am happy to be a model with a disability.” Sharing the lack of awareness and insensitivity that continues to prevail in our society, he shared anecdotes of discrimination and insensitivity, and called upon the audience to be more considerate and accepting.

Hon. Molwyn Joseph, Minister of Health, Environment, Botanical Gardens and Heritage Sites, in his keynote speech, urged the audience to accept their personal responsibility towards changing the social fabric of Antigua and Barbuda. Stressing on the need to disregard the “dis” in disability, he emphasised collaboration and suggested the creation of a group of organisations to keep the focus on the mission to continue the objectives of the I am able campaign in Antigua and Barbuda.

As the ceremony drew to a close, a renewed sense of purpose filled a room of 200 participants as they pondered over what they could do as individuals, as employers and as people with power or influence to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities.

View the full album of the Conference opening here!

Commonwealth Youth Forum International Task Force Meeting in London

Every time I have the privilege of being with such impressive young people I see afresh the potential, importance and vivacity of our Commonwealth. You represent young people of many different races, religions, and cultures, yet share a spirit of goodwill and an inspiring determination to work together for the common good.

– Hon. Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General


Welcomed by Hon. Patricia Scotland on October 10, members of the international task force met in October for a weeklong planning for the Commonwealth Youth Forum. Set to take place next April in London alongside CHOGM, the weeklong meeting entailed lengthy discussions that will lay the foundation of this Forum.

The task force is under the leadership of Co-chairs Angelique Pouponneau (CYC’s Vice Chairperson for Inclusion and Engagement) and Leon Ward (British Youth Council). Members of the task force represented countries from across the Commonwealth – Ghana, Rwanda, Zambia, Seychelles, Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Samoa, Canada, The Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago.

See what Angelique Pouponneau had to say about the task force meeting with Hon. Patricia Scotland here.

This is what Leon Ward had to say.

Watch our video of the Day 3 shenanigans by the task force working hard bring youth a successful Commonwealth Youth Forum!  


Commonwealth Youth Summit: An Intergenerational Convergence

The first of its kind, a new initiative to empower young leaders has been marked with the Commonwealth Youth Summit launched by His Royal Highness, Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales.

The Commonwealth Youth Council, in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Government of Malaysia, hosted the first ever Commonwealth Youth Summit at the University of Nottingham and Limkokwing University, Malaysia. Guest speakers included Dr. Josephine Ojiambo, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General and Mr. Stefan Priesner, UNDP Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam.

CYS2017 focused on key issues that affect the youth of today; the four thematic pillars were Climate Policy and Finance, Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, Peacebuilding & Global Inequality and Social Cohesion.

Read what His Royal Highness Prince Charles had to say about CYS2017:

Read our official article, daily highlights and get the full CYS2017 report here:

9th Commonwealth Youth Minister’s Meeting

The Commonwealth Secretariat convenes a four-yearly Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (CYMM), including a Youth Leaders Forum and Stakeholders Forum.

The meeting enables government ministers and senior officials to share good practices, debate emerging issues, take stock of pioneering initiatives and forge new partnerships for resourcing youth development. The recommendations from each Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting are considered by leaders at the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

The 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (9CYMM) was held between 31 July and 4 August 2017 in Kampala, Uganda.The main topic of discussion during the 9th CYMM was the inequalities in the area youth development and acknowledging the increasing role of youth in the areas of social and economic progress. In their joint communique, the youth ministers agreed to mainstream youth priorities across all stages of policy-making. Ministers also agreed to promote the professionalization of youth work, social entrepreneurship, and innovative financing mechanisms. 

Watch the daily highlights of CYMM and get further information here.

Read the communique here.


The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) wishes to express its sincere gratitude to those who contributed to the success of the recently concluded 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting (9CYMM) held in Kampala, Uganda. In particular the CYC acknowledges the Government of Uganda & the Uganda National Youth Council for readily agreeing to host the event and for providing warm hospitality throughout!
The young people of the Commonwealth in attendance at the Young Leaders Forum put forth intuitive ideas and demonstrated that within the youth sector work was already being done to resource and finance youth development. However it was unanimously agreed that more could be done. The discussions at the forum focused on the institutionalisation of youth-led organisations, investing in youth, human resource development and the role of media, ICT and creative industry.
Youth leaders agreed that there is a need for more intergenerational dialogue and partnerships. This led to the launch of the Commonwealth Youth Summit with the theme ‘An Intergenerational Convergence’, scheduled to take place November 2017 in Malaysia.
The CYC has advocated in the best interest of young people, especially on the strategic role young people play at the heart of these development initiatives. The youth were afforded a seat at the Youth Ministers Meeting to mainstream the voices & concerns of young people. The Executive members of the CYC present were very active and vocal to ensure they advanced the agenda of youth development and empowerment.
Through our Chairperson Kishva Ambigapathy an assurance was given to the youth ministers that young people were ready to partner with governments, private sector, civil society and NGOs to better deliver youth initiatives.
Calling also for self-sustaining approaches, CYC announced the setup of a social enterprise which include the acquisition of land (CYC Land Title Ownership) to house the CYC Headquarters, an Innovation Hub, venture investors club and mixed developments whereby profits will be channelled to the CYC for youth development initiatives.
However the CYC takes reservations with some of the discussions that took place in the meetings. There seemed to be a lot of hesitation and no specific commitments from several youth ministers. There were also strong trends to generalise youth, thus failing to recognise young people as a diverse social group. Many statements concluded that the youth were beneficiaries and the outcome communiqué does not give the young people the opportunity for ownership. Despite the CYC’s best efforts at advocacy there certainly is still much room for improvement as ministers fail to see the strategic role youth can play!
The CYC was unhappy at several instances of the meeting, particularly when several comments and terms were used to undermine young people, especially with the many added value(s) they bring to our society today, was of grave concern. This does not change the fact that the Commonwealth Youth Council will continue to advocate and make a stronger case to ensure that each and every young person in the Commonwealth is given the opportunity to realise his or her full potential.
The CYC, through its Chairperson, will write to the Commonwealth Secretary General this week to express it’s concerns on these matters and communications would take place to the Heads of Government to seek a way forward and to reinforce the strategic role young people play in the Commonwealth.
Watch Kishva Ambigapathy’s, Chairperson of the CYC, official remarks on this matter:
Read the original press statement here.

CYC Executive Nominations Open!


Do you want to be part of a Council that represents the voice of 1.2 billion Commonwealth youth? Nominations to be a Commonwealth Youth Council Executive are now open! 

The Commonwealth Youth Council is the most diverse youth-led organization in the world, representing young people across the Commonwealth in Asia, the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Americas, Africa and Europe! The CYC aims to advance the youth development agenda and advocates for an enabling environment that facilitates youth participation in global agendas.

For more information about the nominations, click here:

Don’t pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity, we look forward to your nominations!

Muhammad Zafrullah – Connecting the Disconnected

From the age of 17, Muhammad Zafrullah from Pakistan has been actively involved in impacting his community; from youth parliament to working with the UNDP, he has recently started an initiative that makes the internet accessible to rural youth. Zafrullah and team first started this initiative with the goal of exposing more rural youth to quality job opportunities; after many discussions, it was also decided that they would ensure that local farmers are kept up to date on the latest agricultural advances.

With the computer center set-up, Zafrullah trains rural youths on the uses of computers and the internet. With this initiative impacting approximately 200 youth, Zafrullah, in the future, sees three more centres being opened to further raise awareness about the benefits of the internet.

Read the full interview with Muhammad Zafrullah here.

Nominations open for Commonwealth Youth Awards 2018

Are you a Commonwealth youth (18-29 years) and have actively been contributing “Towards a Common Future”? If you are involved in areas such as poverty alleviation, conflict resolution and prevention, democracy and environmental preservation, this is your chance to be recognized for your excellent work! 

For more information on the Commonwealth Youth Awards, click this link:

Unseen and Unspoken Poetry Competition Winners Announced!

On January 4th, 2017, in conjunction with the I am ABLE Campaign, the CYC and Reed Smith launched the Unseen and Unspoken Poetry Competition which seeks to raise awareness about the experience and lives of young people with disabilities across the Commonwealth. A unique feature of this competition was that format of the poem could be either written, an audio recording, a video recording of the poem in sign language and accompanied by subtitles.  The competition attracted 250 poems from all four regions of young people with and without disabilities.

Carolyn Pepper of Reed Smith, expressed why they decided to sponsor this poetry competition:

It’s a great programme. It is a really inspiring programme. It is great to have new voices heard and shared with other people. We are really proud to be part of it and we were honoured to be asked as well. Not everyone has the same opportunities to speak out and I am excited to see the great talent that will come out of it. Why not a future poet laureate? Or someone who takes up poetry as a career? It is often one single event that triggers something in someone and changes the direction of their life – this could be that one thing that triggers something in an entrant or perhaps a reader and they then become a brilliant poet. What better than that? I am looking forward to seeing the entries.

The adjudication panel consisted of published poets – young people with and without disabilities. They included Jonathan Andrews, Megan Beech, Jack Milne, Rawletta Barrow and Janitha Rukmal. Andrews, As a poet, it was a true pleasure to judge this competition and to experience the brilliant entries from across the Commonwealth. The best pieces combined technical and literary mastery with an ability to connect emotionally with a heartfelt or original take on disability and the wider theme of defining as disabled. Each was valid, but I couldn’t help but feel admiration most for those who were confident  enough to accept disability as part of their identity – and to recognise this made them no less of a person

The competition was divided into 2 categories based on age groups of below 18 and above 18:


Under 18

Flower by Marshall Peach

Over 18

I am able enough by Shannon Burns

Disability does not define me by Anna Zam


Under 18

The Myst of Myself by Sherin Mary Zacharia

Blind with Ambition by Chia Yee Wei

I’m not afraid anymore by Azri Arif Bin Mazlan

Over 18

Listen to the Roar of my Silence by Girish Pai

Whispers don’t Define me by Ruvini Katugaha

This is what people don't see by Evangeline Sim Jia En

Caribbeans & Americas

Under 18

Undefinable by Josina J. Forrester

Hidden Disorder by Lemicka Williams

Over 18

Stutter when I speak by Fidelis Obum Iwueke

Stagnant by Nicole Townsend

What I see by Tevona Prendagrast

Africa & Europe

Under 18

Did by Uchechi Princewill A

Silenced by Jena Woodroffe

Over 18

Beauty behind my tattered folds by Ruth Rotich

Disabled Red Ranger by David Over

So much more by Gemma Bryant

Town Hall with Tim Hitchens & Kishva Ambigapathy

On July 18 2017, Tim Hitchens, CEO of the Commonwealth Summit 2018, and Kishva were speakers at a Townhall session organized by the British High Commission Malaysia and the Commonwealth Youth Council. It was held at The Co. in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur; although a small venue, it created a casual and relaxed atmosphere that allowed participants to get up close and personal with both Tim and Kishva.

The session started with the speakers introducing themselves, their roles in respective positions and what they believe the future of the Commonwealth looks like. Participants of the session were very proactive and jumped into questions about pressing matters such as: how the Commonwealth promotes job opportunities, unity, and connectivity amongst youths. Very interestingly, two topics that garnered much participation was how youth in the Commonwealth can build counter-narratives against violent extremism, and promote education for refugees.

British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ms. Victoria answering a question about education in the UK.

On the topics of education in the United Kingdom for Commonwealth youth, the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, Ms. Victoria Marguerite Treadell, gave her input and ultimately encouraged youth to study in the UK. Very interestingly, two topics that garnered much participation was how youth in the Commonwealth can build counter-narratives against violent extremism, and promote education for refugees.