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. 

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.