Three young women sit at a table working on a laptop computer

Reimagining Youth Engagement to Spark Societal Change

January 25, 2021
Webinar series motivates youths to shape a better Malaysia through a better understanding of Freedom of Expression

Webinars teach young people how to advocate for Freedom of Expression

More than 1800 youths aged 18-35 from across Malaysia were engaged in “You Are More Powerful Than You Think” interactive webinars from September to November 2020. This initiative, organized by Internews and NGOHub aims to increase youths’ understanding of their role in advocating for Freedom of Expression (FoE) to spark positive societal change, both locally and globally. These virtual sessions managed to retain high levels of participant engagement through lively discussions, usually experienced in face-to-face lessons. 

“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for Internews and our partner, NGOHub, to continue engaging with our local youth with fresh, energetic formats that resonate with their aspiration to shape a better Malaysia,” said Wan Nurul Hanani Wan Alkamar Shah, Project Director of Internews in Malaysia.

The webinar series is part of the youth-focused ‘Ayuh, Belia!’ project, through which Internews reaches out to youth in the margins of society, at-risk, or those who do not have the means to amplify their voices, so that they can explore their rights to FoE in a safe space.

Webinars reach out to Deaf youth and indigenous youth

The webinars were led by Ian Yee and trainers from R.AGE, an award-winning investigative and impact journalism team. Conducted in English and Bahasa Malaysia, participants learnt about FoE as the cornerstone of democratic societies and how to practice it responsibly through mobile journalism for social impact. Collaborations with various NGOs and universities allowed for greater access and inclusivity which saw youth participation from all backgrounds, including those in rural areas. Notably, one of the sessions was conducted in sign language to allow for Deaf people to follow the discussions; another was held with NGO Pemuda Negara and joined by a group of Orang Asli (indigenous) youth in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

“The webinar has taught me a lot regarding journalism and Freedom of Expression. It has provided me with some food for thought regarding my right of speech in our own country, and I found the speaker to be very entertaining as he continuously engaged us with questions and polls. I would definitely attend a webinar like this again in the near future.” —Hannah Firzanah bt Jaafar, UCSI student

Chun Wah Hoo, Managing Director of NGOHub stated that the webinars provided an insight into how the youth wanted to play a more active role in the FoE space. “As seen from the high turn out, they want their voices heard and to make an impact. We hope that these sessions not only feed their curiosity, but help them find constructive ways through public discourse and mobile journalism to effectively practise their FoE.”

Launching a mobile journalism mentorship

Building off the demand from these webinars, the ‘Ayuh, Belia!’ project will be launching a mobile journalism mentorship program starting 27th January 2021. Youth who aspire to become versatile digital content creators and to champion local issues are welcome to register.

Webinar partners

Internews and NGOhub would like to thank the following supporting partners for making the webinar series a success:

NGOs:

University partners:

  • UCSI
  • UOWM KDU Penang
  • Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)
  • Multimedia University (MMU)
  • Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
  • Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)

(Banner photo: Indigenous youths from rural Gua Musang shared a laptop to participate in Youth Engagement webinar session. Credit: Internews)