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. 

Official Launch of Commonwealth Women’s Mentorship Scheme

“A collaboration of wisdom and innovation for the empowerment of young women,” is how Angelique Pouponneau, the vice-chairperson for inclusion and engagement of the Commonwealth Youth Council described the Commonwealth Women’s Mentorship Scheme that connects young female leaders from across the Commonwealth with mentors, both men and women, from the Caribbean and Americas region.

On the 15th March 2017, a call was made from the grand hall of Malborough House for young women aged 18 – 29 years old with some leadership experience to apply to be a mentee for the pilot of the Commonwealth Women’s Mentorship Scheme. It attracted over 700 applications from young women needing or believing that they needed a mentor for personal and professional development.

The official launch of the Scheme took place in Guyana on the 21st of July to mark the start of the Scheme with more than 50 mentors and mentees having been matched. The official launch brought together over 40 people, both young and older, for an inspiring array of interventions and a networking session. Dr Patricee Douglas, a young medical doctor from Guyana, shared her passion for the need for education of young women to ensure they have control over the reproduction and how she has been influenced by her own mentors and now taken a few young people under her wing. Elizabeth Cox, a Rotarian and the only mentor from Guyana, expressed her automatic desire to help others because of all the people who had helped her in her life and why she has committed to spending six months volunteering on this scheme. Cox’s mentee is Mildred Chirwa from Malawi, a young woman passionate about gender equality and combines her time with her own academics, volunteering and is an entrepreneur. Together they are currently working on a marketing plan to diversify and expand her business.

Other speakers included Dr Joy Wilson, a former victim of sexual abuse, shared how incest is one form of sexual abuse that is often ignored yet affects many in our society. Elon McCurdy, the president of the Caribbean Youth Environment Network – Guyana, conveyed the urgent need for environmental leadership and described the work that young people have engaged in to keep the environment clean and promote ocean governance at the level of the individual. Evie Kanhai, a self-made entrepreneur, shared her story of helping young female entrepreneurs to create their own websites to market their products more effectively in Guyana and further afar. Vishal Joseph, a Queen’s Young Leader, and one of the only two men speaking at this event echoed the importance of men in also being part of the advancement of gender equality. Finally, Sharon Patterson, with her many years of experience working with young people, advised the mentees to be good listeners, remain open-minded, and learn as much as possible. She commended the mentors who have selflessly offered their time and counsel to the young people of the Commonwealth.

The photos of the Official Launch can be viewed at the Commonwealth Youth Council’s Facebook album.

To view media coverage from the local press, please click here.

Chairperson’s Official Visits: China, Bangkok & Brunei


22 MAY – 27 MAY 2017

The Chairperson having dinner with the China Young Entrepreneurs Association to discuss the One Belt, One Road Initiative.
A meeting with Dong Xia of All China Youth Federation & Zhang Hua of China Young Entrepreneurs Association; the meeting entailed a discussion on the establishment of a China-Commonwealth Entrepreneurship Council and the One Belt, One Road Youth Forum.
The Co-Founders and CEOs of startups based in China met with Kishva Ambigapathy to share insight on the dynamics of the startup ecosystem in China.


28 MAY – 3 JUNE 2017

The Chairperson of the CYC gave the Opening Keynote at the Evidence-based Policies on Youth Development in Asia: Promoting the Sustainability of the Youth Policy Toolbox in Asia-Pacific at the UN Bangkok. Kishva urged the youths to participate in youth-policy initiatives and ensure its implementation in their respective countries.
Kishva Ambigapathy, Dhanesh Basil (Coordinator of the CYC Secretariat) and Singyuin Christy (Research Officer of the CYC Secretariat) with Malaysian representatives of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Institute of Youth and Research, and Malaysia Youth Council at the Evidence-based Policies on Youth Development in Asia: Promoting the Sustainability of the Youth Policy Toolbox in Asia-Pacific at the UN Bangkok.
Kishva Ambigapathy at dinner with Mr. Punnapat Arunittrakhoon, the President of The Children and Youth Council of Thailand and his team. The Council shared their roles and the activities they have conducted and how it has garnered a strong presence in 76 districts of Thailand.
Kishva Ambigapathy at a Courtesy Call with Mr. Vitat Tachaboon, Director General of Department of Children and Youth, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security Thailand. Both parties shared their roles, past initiatives and discussed potential collaborations.
The Chairperson with the Sri Lanka National Youth Services Council at UN ESCAP.
The Chairperson presented the Commonwealth Youth Council Strategic Plan to Mr. Nisar Ahmed, the Focal Person for Youth Affairs, Ministry of Inter-Provincial Cooperation Pakistan at the UN Bangkok.
Kishva Ambigapathy and Dhanesh Basil (Coordinator of the CYC Secretariat) with India, Singapore, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Bangladesh representatives at the Evidence-based Policies on Youth Development in Asia: Promoting the Sustainability of the Youth Policy Toolbox in Asia-Pacific at the UN Bangkok.

11 JUNE – 13 JUNE 2017

Dialogue Session by Kishva Ambigapathy with the Youth Organisation Leaders in Brunei. The topics of discussion were the youth aspirations and the challenges faced.
During the Chairperson’s official visit to Brunei, he and Dhanesh Basil (Coordinator of the CYC Secretariat) took the opportunity to join friends in the BinaUkwah Project by the Brunei Student Alumni Network. The Project involved packing food and household items to be given to 70 underprivileged families and orphanages.
Kishva Ambigapathy with YB Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports of Brunei Darussalam and YB Khairunnisa Ashari. The Ministry of has continuously supported the Commonwealth Youth Council in its youth empowerment & development agenda!
Kishva Ambigapathy had a session with the Student Representatives Council of the Universiti Teknologi Brunei. The topic of discussion was on leadership and students taking an active role in youth movements and the Student Council.
Kishva Ambigapathy visited the Brunei Autism Center for Adults. The CYC envisions a future whereby youth with disabilities will have equal opportunities; an initiative of the CYC is the IAmAble Campaign that aims to build the capacity of youth with disabilities to be community leaders.

Vote Like A Boss Campaign

April 28th 2017, Nairobi

The Commonwealth Youth Council in collaboration with Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN) and Kenya UNESCO Youth Forum launched “VOTE LIKE A BOSS” Campaign featuring the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, National Youth Council, and youth leaders.

In her welcoming remarks, Ms Faith Manthi, Vice Chairperson of Partnership and Resources at the Commonwealth Youth Council, encouraged the young people from Nairobi to become involved in the electoral process by emphasizing to them the importance of voting and being aware of their democratic rights.

During the campaign launch, there was a discussion featuring Mr George Osaso, Directorate of Youth Affairs, Mr Dishon Atemo, Kenya National Youth Council, Mr Michael Opondo, Countering Violent Extremism Coordinator and Ms. Jacqueline Njeru, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO. The panelists engaged the youth on various topics ;Involvement of Youth in Promotion of Peace in Kenya, Youth Engagement in Democratic Processes, Works of the National Youth Council in Relation to Peace and Youth Inclusion , Role of CVE in Peace Building , Youth in Civic Engagement and UNESCO’s culture of peace.

‘VOTE LIKE A BOSS’ campaign launch was well received by the public as it presents youth with an opportunity to play a critical constitutional and democratic role in the election process. At the same time, it created an enabling environment for discussions and encouraged political participation of the youth.

To watch the launch video, click here, and to view more event photos, click here.

Chairperson’s Pacific Tour

19 APRIL – 22 APRIL 2017
Left: Kishva Ambigapathy attended the Malaysian Summit of Australia (MASA) as a guest speaker to discuss Transformasi National 2050 (National Transformation 2050).
Right: Kishva Ambigapathy met with Jack Milne, Lead Advisor for the Commonwealth Youth Council’s Inclusion & Engagement Committee, to discuss the empowerment of youth with disabilities & the youth of the Pacific Region!

23 APRIL – 25 APRIL 2017
Kishva Ambigapathy with the Hon. Speaker & the young MP’s of Fiji who engaged in discussions on the CYC & the engagement of Pacific youth. Furthermore, he had the opportunity to speak to the Youth & Sports Minister of Fiji on the development of young people in the country and the Commonwealth Youth Minister’s Meeting taking place in Uganda later this year. The Chairperson also had the pleasure of meeting the Former Deputy Prime Minister at the Parliament of Fiji; they discussed the involvement of young people in politics & governance.

25 APRIL – 29 APRIL 2017
Left: Kishva Ambigapathy met with Samoa National Youth Council to discuss Commonwealth youth issues and the engagement of youth in the region.
Right: Meeting with Women In Business Development (WIBDI) Samoa which aims to create entrepreneurs by building capacities of young people (especially from rural villages) in organic farming & business skills.


Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting 2017

Join us in Uganda, the Pearl of Africa!

For a few days this July/August, the Ugandan government in partnership with the Commonwealth will be hosting a meeting of Youth Ministers, Senior Officials, Stakeholders and Youth Leaders. The theme will be “Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Youth” in recognition of the constraints facing the youth sector globally and the need to have concrete multi-stakeholder partnerships to move forward.

Read more and register your interest below by the June 10 deadline:

For stakeholders:

Apply to be part of the Stakeholder Forum at the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting

For youth leaders:

Registration to the Youth Leaders Forum – 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting

Oh – and we are also looking for speakers! Get in touch! #CYC⁠⁠⁠⁠