I feel that Nepal is a crisis country for the best leadership practice, especially in the political arena. National Youth policy of ours defines 18- 40 years of people to be called youth. My experience of working with youths for the past two years shows the mixed character of leadership. Most young people I have encountered so far want to be a follower than a leader. Most of the youths are reluctant to take the challenge of being a leader and choose an easier way of following. Another tragedy for me is that these same passive youths’ remark that “There is no opportunity in Nepal” and flee to foreign lands. Two years ago I got an opportunity as a President to lead the executive board of YUWA, one of the leading youth organizations in Nepal. The average age of the executive board was 21 years. It is an unusual phenomenon in terms of defining and practising leadership in Nepal. It is also an unusual phenomenon where youths take risk of being a leader, challenge the status quo and contribute towards the development of the nation. With young leaders comes a lot of doubts and there definitely was one over our capacity, knowledge, skills and ability as young leaders when we started.
YUWA I believe is an exemplary organization on how we can develop youth leadership in Nepal. The two best things for me that YUWA practices to strengthen youth leadership is continuous mentorship and leadership transformation. YUWA has been a platform for thousands of young people to explore, learn, make mistakes but empower themselves. This was only possible through continuous mentorship to interns, volunteers, members and even for the executive board. In our country where people fight to be in position for a long time, YUWA practices leadership transformation which helps youths to learn, lead, make the impact and leave for another generation to step in. I am an example of that process. I started my career volunteering for YUWA, I was mentored, equipped with skills and with the belief that I could lead. I was given an opportunity where there was exposure to new learning, systems and structure. Thus, I could lead my organization for two years upfront and now on the verge of transferring leadership to the new energetic and confident team.
Leadership comes with a long-term vision and ambition where you want to take your team. Reflecting back to my tenure, I realized that leadership is all about accepting challenges, challenging the status quo, proper planning, execution and being loyal towards what you do. An important lesson I have learned is that change is not easy and so is leadership since both need sheer dedication and commitment. Working in a team, it is natural that we all come with our own agenda and we also depict individuality. The most pertinent culture that youth leadership needs to bring is that our agenda and our individuality should coincide with organizational interest over personal interest. It is definitely an uphill task, especially for the youth of similar age to provide the platform, cater their skill, increase knowledge and change behaviour and perception towards the agenda that we carry of leadership and nation-building. Peer education has been an effective modality for us to empower youth and strengthen their involvement at the decision-making level. For two years we have been working relentlessly and restlessly to change the notion that “Youths are the future leaders.”
Definitely, our work, our approach and our impact among youth have proved that they are the leaders of today is equipped with the right skills, trusted to lead and provided the platform. We are also proud to work together and collaborate with like-minded organizations who are the real believer of youth empowerment and not token youth’s participation. We definitely need to step up, take challenges, build our skill, work professionally and definitely promote youth friendly attitude. Undeniable that leadership is an uphill task and leading is not easy; but youth leadership creates progressive impact, creates change and breaks the status quo for prosperous Nepal. I urge youths to lead up front and adults to support them in leadership. Then, leading definitely becomes easy!
President, YUWA (2016-2018)