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Partnerships for Youth Engagement

#GEONext

Through our joint project #GEOYOUTH2020, Polis180 and GIP have identified challenges for young people in Georgia to get involved in politics and its solution approaches to civic engagement, resulting in a jointly drafted  Youth Manifesto. Building on this successful interaction, #GEOYOUTH2021 focused on providing training and funds for the youths to implement their own ideas and projects in their local communities. In total, 8 subgrant groups have organised trainings, research and discussions raising awareness for issues of local governance and youth engagement across Georgia. While the group reports are still pending, the results so far exceeded our expectations.

As power is traditionally centralised in the national government, reforms to local governance have been crucial to enable direct political participation of citizens and strengthen the role of smaller parties. Participation in local elections is especially low among young people, not least due to a lack of trust in political institutions and a lack of knowledge of how to engage in politics on a municipal level. As we learned in the process of supporting local projects in rural communities, it is here that these actions have the most direct impact, which is why continued support is crucial to ensure democratic resilience and sustainability – especially given the ongoing political turmoil on the national level. Increased citizen participation requires raising civic awareness, building capability and confidence of various strata of Georgian society to be engaged in democratic life, and encouraging social activism beyond the formal civil society sector. This is precisely where #GEONext sets off.

If young people are not actively involved in politics, important negotiation processes towards a pluralistic society are inhibited. Therefore, it is vital that this generation – the first one to grow up in a democratic system – is prepared for the discourses constituting it. This also resonates with the Georgian National Youth Policy Concept for 2020 – 2030 (For, With and By Young People), naming Active Participation of Young People in Public Life and Democratic Processes as its first priority.

The European Union has initiated the Eastern Partnership program in order to support these national processes, notably civil society and youth: As Ambassador Hans-Jürgen Heimsoeth emphasised during our panel discussion, young people hold a key position to ensure resilience of democratisation processes but lack representation and participation. Following up on #GEOYOUTH2020 and #GEOYOUTH2021, we therefore want to take the proven methodology and networks gained from this successful interaction with youth across Georgia to the next level. Together with mentors, experts and German youth representatives, we want to advance  civil society cooperation, broaden the  understanding of civil society on all sites and highlighting the importance of social corporate responsibility and public-private partnership for sustainable and impactful civic engagement.

Finally, another key factor is sustainability and comprehensiveness. We will document the entire process with strategic communication on our blog and social media in cooperation with our international experts. What is more, we are aware of activities by other donors in the region such as USAID and giz and coordinate our actions and objectives with them. By supporting young people in empowering themselves and each other, this project supports them in realising their potential as political subjects and thereby strengthen pluralistic democratic structures long-term.

Project activities

While our activities have established active networks among young people willing to engage in local politics, it is also essential to link them to a broader civil society sector, including NGOs, private companies and the public sector. The aim of #GEONext therefore is to use civic education and international, cross-sectoral cooperation to prepare the next generation of Georgians to be engaged, know and exercise their democratic rights and responsibilities, harness technology, and build partnerships, including with the private sector, in order to demand and facilitate increased government accountability.

For this, we engaged mentors from various sectors, covering between them the four central topics of digitalization, inclusion, climate/sustainability and regional economic development. Through a targeted call for applications, two youth groups were selected for each topic (8 groups in total) and paired with these mentors. In addition to the mentorship, they receive funds to set up workshops, seminars or similar events in their respective regions to pass on the insights they have gained from their own local activism and working with the mentors.

Moreover, each group is matched with a German youth representative (co-mentor) selected in a separate process who will support them in organising the local events from a grassroots perspective. The project participants will implement their own initiatives, putting to practice the newly acquired knowledge, capitalizing on the mentors’ support and sharing gained experience with their peers.

Between June and September, the project teams will implement and documents their projects in the regions. In October, we will bring together the youth and their mentors with political decision makers, civil society actors and business representatives in a joined conference in Tbilisi to discuss their experiences and the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation to tackle societal challenges comprehensively.

Throughout the project duration, we will publish a number of blog articles to discuss the challenges and benefits of cross-sectoral cooperation in Georgia, Germany and beyond.

Sub-grant Projects

Detailed descriptions can be found here!

Climate Change / Sustainability
1. ახალგაზრდები კლიმატის ცვლილების წინააღმდეგ/ Youth against climate change
Khatia Gabinashvili, Salome Kushashvili, Tamta Gabinashvili
Location: Kazbegi, Mtskheta-Mtianeti.
2. იმოქმედე კლიმატისთვის/ Act for climate
Giorgi Mokverashvili, Ana Baidauri, Madina Alkhanashvili, Iman Sviakauri, Mari Margoshvili
Location: Pankisi, Kakheti.
 
Inclusion
1. ახალგაზრდები რეგიონული ცვლილებებისთვის/Youth for changes in regions
Rima Beridze, Linda Beridze, Ana Sikhashvili
Location: Tbilisi.
2. საჯარო სივრცის ხელმისაწვდომობა შშმ პირთათვის/ Public spaces’s accessability for the people with disability
Dima Karchava, Nino Odisharia, Anna Sakhokia, Giorgi Kemularia, Mariam Jghamadze, Mariam Bolkvadze
Location: Senaki, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti.
 
Regional Economic Development
1. ახალგაზრდული იდეების ბანაკი / Camp of the Youth Ideas
Tamta Chankseliani, Salome Artmeladze, Tamar Papava, Tamar Rekhviashvili
Location:  Kobuleti, Adjara.
2. ბაღდათის და დუშეთის მუნიციპალიტეტების ეკონომიკური პოტენციალის ათვისება/ Utilization of the Bagdati and Dusheti Municipalities’ economic potential
David Aludauri, Nika Kratsashvili, Grisha Labadze, Sandro Jibladze
Location:  Baghdadi, Imereti / Dusheti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti.

Digitalization / Entrepreneurship

1. ეთნიკური უმცირესობების ინტეგრაციის პროცესისთვის ქართული ენის სწავლების დიჯიტალიზაცია/ Georgian Language studying digitalization for the integration of the ethnic minorities
Gvantsa Sikharulidze, Nino Uturashvili, Piqria Lomjaria
Location: Tbilisi.
2.   ბიზნეს პრე-აქსელერატორი – ცაგერი/ The Business Accelerator – Tsageri
Nutsa Karseladze, Giorgi Tchabukiani, Vasil Karseladze
Location: Tsageri, Racha-Lechkhumi-Kvemo Svaneti.

Mentors

  • Farid Askerov & Ketevan Maisuradze  – polyvim LLC
  • Giorgi Demetrashvili – Caritas Georgia
  • Ida Bakhturidze – Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF)
  • Mariam Zhorzhikashvili & Nino Khukhua, giz Georgia
  • Nini Mosiashvili – Sweeft
  • Irakli Chkhaidze – 8000 Vintages

Co-Mentors

  • Jil Kaiser – BG3000 / Polis180
  • Esther Kern  – BIGS Potsdam / Polis180
  • Jonas Nitschke – European Commission / Polis180
  • Nora Pohl – Unionhilfswerk  / Polis180

Publications

In the course of the project, several blog articles will be published accompanying the process and analysing our experiences in the field of cross-sectoral cooperation for youth engagement in Georgian politics.

Reread

  • MANIFESTOEngaging Youth in Politics in Georgia
  • EVALUATION REPORT: #GEOYOUTH2020 & 2021 Fostering Youth Participation in Politics in Georgia, Germany & beyond (December 2021)
  • Blog Article #2: “We proudly present: The #GEOYOUTH2021 project teams! Meet the youths who bring about the change they wish to see in Georgia”. An introduction by Anna Kiknadze (July 2021)
  • Blog Article #1: “Georgia’s 2021 local elections: Youth at the democratic front line”. A Preliminary Analysis by Anna Kiknadze & Frauke Seebass (June 2021)
  • Report – #GEOYOUTH2021 Study Trip to Berlin (9-13 November)
  • Blog Article #1: “The moment we decide to fulfil something, we can do anything”. An Analysis by Sonja Schiffers & Frauke Seebass (July 2020)
  • Blog Article #2: Political apathy in Georgia: Why don’t young people vote? A comment by Nino Samkharadze (October 2020)
  • Blog Article #3: Participation for future: Youth in party politics in Germany, Georgia and beyond. A comment by Frauke Seebass & Anna Kiknadze (December 2020)

Reports

10 JUN | Kick-off Meeting with Georgian Ambassador to Germany H.E. Levan Izoria and Andy Coxall (Common Purpose)

Reread

Report: Khatuna Ioseliani on How to organize your own project successfully!

Report: Cristina Bacalso on How to make participatory events meaningful and inclusive!

Report: Esther Kern on How to structure events for meaningful youth participation!

Events

  • 8 June | Webinar by GIP organisation team on project management and administration
  • 9 June | Official Project Kickoff with welcoming remarks by Ambassador of Georgia to the Federal Republic of Germany Levan Izoria
  • 15 July | Webinar by Co-Mentors on youth engagement in German politics (date tbc)
  • 10 June – 30 September | Implementation of project activities in the regions
  • 7 October | Cross-sectoral conference in Tbilisi to present the project results with welcoming remarks by Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Georgia Hubert Knirsch (date tbc)

Testimonies by our supporters

Our project partner

The Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP) is a Tbilisi-based non-profit, non-partisan, research and analysis organization founded in early 2011. GIP strives to strengthen the organizational backbone of democratic institutions and promote good governance and development through policy research and advocacy in Georgia. It also encourages public participation in civil society-building and developing democratic processes. GIP is working to distinguish itself through relevant, incisive research; extensive public outreach; and a brazen spirit of innovation in policy discourse and political conversation.

Our project staff

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Frauke Seebass (Co-Project Lead, Polis180): Frauke is a a project manager and long-term member of Polis180 where she is active in the program Perspective East, working mainly on the Western Balkans and the countries of the Eastern Partnership in the framework of EU Neighbourhood and Enlargement Policy. At the same time, she is a PhD student at Andrássy University Budapest where she researches identity politics as a foreign policy instrument in Kosovo. Among others, she studied Peace & Conflict Studies and Linguistics in Germany, The Netherlands, and Israel. Frauke loves Georgian nature, wine and toasting culture and dreams of becoming a brilliant tamada one day.

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Anna Kiknadze (Co-Project Lead, Polis180): Anna has been a member of Polis180 since it’s launch. Currently she is actively engaged with the program Perspective East, focusing on the EU Neighbourhood Policy issues in the South Caucasus and the other Eastern Partnership countries. She holds an MA in European Studies from University of Bath, the UK. Prior to that, she studied in Georgia (BA International Relations from Free University of Tbilisi), Turkey and Germany. For the last 6 years Anna has been based in Berlin and among other governmental & non-governmental organisations, she worked at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Georgian Embassy in Germany and was an IPS fellow at the German Bundestag.

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Renata Skardžiūtė-Kereselidze (Deputy Director, GIP): Renata is deputy director at Georgian Institute of Politics, where she worked since 2012. She is alumna of the On Think Tanks Fellowship Program “Integral Leaders for Global Challenges” (2017). Before joining GIP Renata has worked as a journalist covering foreign policy and European issues in Lithuania, and was recipient of Heinrich Boell fellowship to research EU strategies in conflict resolution in Georgia. Her interests include collective identities, European integration and Eastern Partnership. She earned her MA at Central European University (CEU), Nationalism Studies department (2009); and received BA in Political Science, Institute of International Relations and Political Science (IIRPS), Vilnius University (2008).

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Salome Kandelaki (Project Coordinator, GIP): Salome is currently a Project Coordinator and Junior Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics. Salome is a Ph.D. student in Political Science at Tbilisi State University. She is an invited lecturer at the European University, Georgia.  In 2017, she obtained her MA degree in Political Science from the Central European University Budapest. At the same time, she was specialized in Comparative Politics. Moreover, she has a second Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the joint program of the German University of Administrative Sciences and Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. Her previous work experience includes Fundraising Management at the Social Justice Center (former EMC).  She was also a leading acting specialist at the Tbilisi City Assembly as well as project management in different youth non-governmental organizations. Her field of experience is comparative case-study analyses with a particular focus on religion and democracy, regionalism, and democratization. Among her research interests are Europeanization, frozen conflicts as well as secularism in Europe.

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Nino Samkharadze (Junior Policy Analyst, GIP): Nino is is a Junior Policy Analyst at GIP. At the same time, she is a PhD student at Tbilisi State University, Department of Political Science. She has obtained MA degree in Nationalism and Ethnicity Studies from TSU and BA degree in International Relations from International Black Sea University (IBSU). Being an invited lecturer at IBSU she delivers courses in Introduction to Political Science and Nationalism in International Relations. Nino’s research interests include nationalism, identity politics and their influence on political processes in the post-Soviet region.ionalism, identity politics and their influence on political processes in the post-Soviet region.

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Teona Zurabashvili (Junior Policy Analyst, GIP): Teona is a junior Policy Analyst at GIP. As a Swedish Institute scholar, she studied Master’s program in Political Science at Gothenburg University from 2018 to 2020 and gained MSc in Political Science. Besides, she has earned MA degree in International Relations from Georgian Institute of Public Affairs and BA degree in History from Tbilisi State University. In 2019, she was a research associate at Quality of Government Institute (Sweden), where she worked on corruption issues. Her main research interests include democracy, good governance, corruption, and political parties in transitional democracies.

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Shota Kakabadze (Junior Policy Analyst, GIP): Shota is a Junior Policy Analyst at the Georgian Institute of Politics. He is a Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science from the University of Tartu (Estonia). Shota has obtained his Masters degree in the European Union – Russia Studies from the same university. During his doctoral studies he has been a Swedish Institute Research Fellow at Uppsala University Institute of Russia and Eurasian Studies, as well as a Junior Researcher of International Relations at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies at the University of Tartu. His main research interest includes discourses on national identity, foreign policy, Eastern Partnership. He has published several academic articles and a book chapter on Georgian national identity/foreign policy relationship.

Project term

01 March- 31 December 2022

Funding & Support

The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Office in the framework of the programme “Expanding Cooperation with Civil Society in the Eastern Partnership Countries and Russia”.

#civilsocietycooperation

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