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Cambodia Youth Fair: Developing Youth Leadership

Despite making up over two-thirds of the population of Cambodia, youth remain marginalized by numerous political, societal and economic challenges. 

One of the primary challenges that confronts youth in Cambodia is that despite their numerical size, politicians over the age of 30 still maintain a disproportionate amount of power in Cambodian politics. Recognizing the lack of visible youth leaders in Cambodian society, IRI’s longtime partner, the Youth Council of Cambodia (YCC) organizes ‘youth fairs’ across the country to elevate the importance of youth leadership, advocacy and empowerment. On September 26, YCC hosted ‘Youth Fair 2015” to highlight the tremendous work that Cambodian youth are doing in both their local communities and at the national level to advance youth leadership, empowerment and activism. 

Over 1,800 youth came from across Cambodia to celebrate youth leadership at the ‘Youth Fair 2015’.

To encourage youth to become more active in leadership roles in their community, YCC brought together a variety of political leaders, youth activist organizations, and youth leaders to impart on the crowd the importance of youth leadership, as well as a variety of opportunities for youth to get more involved in their communities. Seven booths from organizations geared towards youth community service, youth debate, and youth activism assembled in the banquet hall to hand out flyers, brochures and other materials to provide Cambodian youth with contact information for further opportunities for youth advancement in their local communities. 

Booths were set up throughout the event hall for youth to find new ways to volunteer in their surrounding communities.

The dissemination of information across a wide audience of youth Cambodians allows the audience to not only learn from the speakers, participating organizations and their fellow peers, but also share their experiences in youth volunteering, activism and leadership. It is this crucial component of learning and sharing which makes the youth fair model so effective. 

Seen here in the center, H.E. Mr. York Ngoy, Secretary of State of Education, Youth and Sports and Julie Chung, Deputy Chief of Mission for the U.S. Embassy stressed the importance of education, leadership and community service to the youth in attendance.

In total, over 1,861 (945 women) Cambodian youth attended the event and were able to hear remarks from Deputy Chief of Mission, Julie Chung, Secretary of State for Education, Sports and Youth H.E. Mr. York Ngoy and Executive Director of YCC, Im Sothy on the importance of youth political involvement.  In addition, participants were also able to hear about personal experiences in youth leadership from their peers such as Linda Eang, winner of the third season of Next Generation, Youth Leadership Challenge winner, Tauch Norin and Cambodian superstar, Meas Soksophea. 

Meas Soksophea is one of the most followed individuals on Facebook in Cambodia and brought a little extra star power and fun to an already dynamic and exciting youth fair.

Linda Eang spoke to the packed audience about the importance of youth finding their inner strength.

Given the large reach of the notable guests, participating organizations and large crowd, “Youth Fair 2015” was successful at not only educating and exciting Cambodian youth about youth leadership, but also effectively communicated a variety of ways that Cambodian youth can provide meaningful, and greatly needed leadership in their local communities.  

Posted by

Theodore Wilhite

Assistant Program Officer, Asia Division