After five years of supporting the Youth Civic Engagement Award, USAID has successfully handed over the torch to the Agency for Youth and Sports of North Macedonia and the National Youth Council, in terms of the leadership of the annual award process. This change reflects meaningful cooperation and partnerships among the donor community, youth organizations, and public institutions. Among its primary objectives, the Civic Engagement Project (CEP) focuses on increasing and sustaining youth engagement in public life in North Macedonia.
Within its initial 5 years, the Civic Engagement Project (CEP) held five annual editions of the Youth Civic Engagement Award, continuously recognizing and supporting the work of exemplary young men and women (under the age of 29), informal youth groups, and youth civil society organizations and youth civil society alliances and networks. Until now, 24 awards were given out to the respective honorees, therefore valorizing the hard work of youth activists, addressing a wide specter of issues – from mental health, food waste and COVID-19 response, to cross-border youth cooperation, gender equality in media and animal welfare. This award not only celebrated the success of young people and showcased the importance of youth engagement in all spheres of society, but also–in the form of grant support– ensured that the initiatives and actions they were recognized for, were able to sustain their implementation, thus ensuring a lasting impact on society. Aside from this, the process was lauded for its fairness and transparency, where the general public selected the awardees via public voting, ensuring all outstanding nominees received greater visibility and recognition for their efforts.
At the fifth Youth Civic Engagement Award Ceremony, taking place June 4, 2021, and based on the Memorandum of Understanding between the Agency for Youth and Sports, and the National Youth Council of Macedonia, signed on March 3, 2021, both Mr. Naumche Mojsovski, Director of the Agency for Youth and Sports, the national institution responsible for youth affairs in North Macedonia, and Ms. Marija Krstevska, President of the National Youth Council, affirmed the established partnership and their commitment to build upon USAID’s legacy and continue recognizing youth with the Youth Civic Engagement Award, beyond the USAID support.
On June 21, 2022, the Agency for Youth and Sports, in partnership with the National Youth Council of Macedonia, officially launched the call for nomination for the sixth Youth Civic Engagement Award. The sixth edition of the award fully replicates the previously established process within the Civic Engagement Project (CEP), starting with the nominations phase, the public voting phase, and honoring the awardees in the three categories – individual category of youth (aged 15-29), informal youth groups (consisting of at least 3 members) and youth civil society organizations. The Agency for Youth and Sports and the National Youth Council of Macedonia will announce the winners at the Youth Civic Engagement Award Ceremony on August 12, 2022, marking the International Youth Day.
As an added value to this process is the fact that the Agency for Youth and Sports, in cooperation with the Government and additional national institutions and civil society organizations will recognize youth engagement through a series of youth events, aptly titled ‘Youth Week’, starting on August 8, and culminating on August 12 with the Youth Civic Engagement Award Ceremony.
USAID through CEP, has affirmed the importance of youth engagement in addressing issues of public concern, and has facilitated the development of partnerships between relevant national institutions and youth civil society organization in ensuring continuity of the Youth Civic Engagement Award, as a sustainable mechanism that recognizes and supports youth activists for their efforts. Thanks to the award, both the citizens and the institutions recognize youth’s contribution to society.
Erik Janowsky, former USAID Country Representative at the fifth Youth Civic Engagement Award Ceremony remarked that “this is a great example of USAID’s core belief that country institutions must be in the lead when it comes to advancing North Macedonia’s sustainable development and well-being. We are excited that the government has chosen to continue this program, fully recognizing its value in empowering you, the future leaders of this country. We look forward to attending next year’s ceremony and witnessing the government’s recognition of youth leadership through the Youth Civic Engagement Award.”USAID’s Civic Engagement Project Website / USAID’s Civic Engagement Project Facebook Page