By Loretta Monique
During the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the resilience and determination of the nation’s youth have emerged as a powerful force driving change and advocating for peace. Their stories, experiences, and relentless efforts to amplify their voices have shed light on the hidden realities of war, showcasing the indispensable power of youth mobilization.
Steliana Rudco (27), a Moldovan human rights activist and speaker on the first episode, manages Moldova’s first-ever Community Center, which offers support to local communities, Ukrainian citizens in temporary displacement, and various Moldovan minority groups. In 2022, she co-founded the Moldova for Peace Initiative, the nation’s first refugee response initiative. As the full-scale war in Ukraine erupted, she and a team of 20 volunteers developed the national refugee crisis response strategy for both the government and civil society. “We are perceived more as the rebels and anarchists, as if we are not serious. But young activists took maybe 70% of the work”, she explains in the first episode of Holosy.
The impact of the conflict on youth cannot be understated. A substantial portion of Ukraine’s population is aged between 15 and 29, and the crisis has significantly disrupted their lives. Displacement, loss of educational opportunities, and the tragic loss of loved ones have become all too common for these young individuals.
Education, a fundamental right, has been particularly impacted, with over 1,000 schools damaged or destroyed, affecting the education of approximately 700,000 children and youth. However, Ukrainian youth have displayed resilience by establishing makeshift classrooms, organizing peer-to-peer learning, and utilizing online platforms, showcasing their determination to continue learning despite the challenges.
What sets the youth apart is their ability to harness the power of social media. With around 17 million active social media users in Ukraine, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become essential tools for sharing their stories and advocating for peace. Through compelling narratives and eye-catching campaigns, they have managed to reach a global audience of millions, urging them to stand in solidarity and raise awareness about the conflict.
Youth-led initiatives have also gained traction, with young Ukrainians actively engaging in discussions, advocating for peace, and proposing solutions to the conflict. These initiatives, such as “Zboriv Youth Council” and “Youth For Democracy in Ukraine,” are crucial in shaping policies and strategies to mitigate the effects of the war and work towards long-term peace and stability.
And for these reasons, the Hague Humanity Hub and UN Women decided to open the Holosy Podcasts series with an episode on youth activism in Ukraine. The narratives shared by the youth have become a vessel, bringing news and facts from Ukraine to a broader international audience. These stories serve as a window into the harsh realities of war, urging people to empathize and advocate for change. The youth have become effective storytellers, humanizing the crisis and moving hearts and minds across borders.
The hidden power of youth mobilization in Ukraine lies in their resilience, determination, and ability to leverage technology to share their stories. By amplifying their voices and actively involving them in the discourse surrounding the conflict, we can ensure that their narratives serve as a powerful catalyst for change, leading to a more compassionate and united global community. The youth are not just victims of the conflict; they are change-makers, future leaders, and the hope for a brighter tomorrow.