One of our core team members of DotKids Foundation, Bianca Caroline Ho, has been elected to the Multi-stakeholder Advisory Group (MAG) of the United Nations Internet Governance Forum (UNIGF) for 2015. Bianca is 1 of the 3 youth representatives on the MSG out of the 50 plus members who have received nominations and support from children, young people, or related organizations from different region of the world. Since the 1st IGF held in 2006, there were no youth representatives being nominated or included in any of the committee. However, with the many years of talking of youth and children participation and their related issues on the Internet, youth and children contributions are now being more valued. We are very excited that finally more youth and children voices could be promoted and brought into the International level with a more prominent impact.
Bianca has just been to the 1st Open Consultations and MAG meeting for the preparation of IGF 2015 held at the headquarter of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Geneva from 1-3 December 2014. The meeting has reviewed the 9th IGF taken place in Istanbul whereby 3,500 participants attended on-site and remotely from 144 countries. Bianca representing the children and youth at large has further reiterated and promoted the importance on enhancing children and youth participation at IGFs. She has raised and suggested several modalities as follow:
- developing a youth-friendly toolkit regarding the IGF;
- engage more youth representatives in sessions’ panels;
- encourage youth to build a list of resource persons for sessions organizers to reach out to when preparing their sessions;
- have MAG members act as mentors for youth participants, etc.
It is encouraging that the MAG members from different part of the world and stakeholder groups are in general positive and welcome such ideas. A representative from the UK government also made a remark, “…Very much appreciate the engaging and commitment of those youth participants in Istanbul and we support elevating their participation into center-stage activities of the IGF in Brazil. To give them more visibility and help refresh our understanding of issues and what is of importance to young people.” We can see that Internet governance is becoming more of a relevant issue for youth and children and we will continue to uphold and play a significant role in bridging them to the discussion.