U-Report as a tool to inform inclusive policy dialogue and strategic programming in Kosovo*
The most recent demographic dividend analysis shows that Kosovo needs to invest more in skills for work to make young people more employable.
The most recent demographic dividend analysis shows that Kosovo needs to invest more in skills for work to make young people more employable. This cannot happen without participatory governance systems that will create opportunities to improve the workforce and to amplify the voices of young people in decision-making processes.
In this context, civic engagement of all citizens including young people is the bedrock of successful responsive governance systems. The main guiding question is: how do we ensure that the voices of young people are heard and their opinions are taken into consideration in policy dialogue at societal level as key actors in a vibrant, peaceful and prosperous Kosovo? U-Report is one of the promising new ways to bring about a significant positive social change in inclusive policy development in Kosovo.
The newly-introduced social messaging tool is promising to provide a much sought-after platform for young people to actively participate in community action and help shape policy development, and to make a difference in their communities.
For example, the Ministry of Culture Youth and Sports (MCYS) recently conducted a U-Report poll administered to more than 3400 young people. This platform created a space to promote freedom of expression and dialogue between young people and the MCYS on matters such as employment, security and wellbeing. The purpose of the MCYS poll was to assess public opinion and to amplify youth voices to inform the amendment and revisions of the current Law on Empowerment and Participation of Youth.
The findings of this poll were publicly discussed on national TV at the celebration of the International day of Youth by the minister and his cabinet. The key messages from this poll included that some 55% of respondents were unemployed and that unemployment disproportionately affects women. 73% of respondents said Unemployment is the greatest threat to Kosovo youth’s future and well-being, followed by political insecurity (19%) and community insecurity (8%).
The second example of the use of U-Report was a poll demanded by UNDP Kosovo on access to Legal Aid. More than 60% of respondents said they were unaware that there are free legal aid services available in Kosovo; 57% even thought that they don’t know if they are eligible for free legal aid. Around 61% of respondents also noted that they would benefit from a real-time chat-based and confidential legal aid assistant.
The third example of U-Report utilization was conducted UNICEF Innovations Lab on the challenges facing young people of Kosovo. The lack of proper education was cited as being the priority challenge for young people in Kosovo, followed closely by lack of skills for employability. Around 42% of respondents cited weak institutional support as the biggest obstacle to prepare young people for the workforce, followed by the lack of opportunities for vocational training courses, internships, and volunteer work.
Based on the above U-Report polls, it is important to underline that these polls cannot be generalized and do not represent the opinions of Kosovo’s entire population. Nevertheless, they show some trends of the opinions of young people that can be used to inform not only policy dialogue, but also to identify challenges and gaps in awareness around pressing issues that pinpoint the need for targeted strategic programmatic interventions. In this context, U-Report is contributing to amplifying the voices of young people; narrowing the distance between young people and institutions; strengthening an institutional culture of accountability and transparency in the design and implementation of policies and programmes; and influencing positive behavior and social change with and for young people.
*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)