IFES at the 2016 InterAction Forum
From April 18-20, 2016 InterAction, a Washington, D.C.-based organization of more than 180 members from the NGO community, hosted its annual forum. The theme of the 2016 Forum was “Engage; Learn; Build” and offered attendees more than 50 workshops, four high-level plenary sessions, as well as numerous other opportunities for participants to engage with colleagues and partners in a stimulating professional environment. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) participated substantively in this year’s event both by co-hosting a workshop and providing an IFES expert as a discussant on an externally-hosted panel.
IFES’ workshop, co-hosted with Global Communities, titled “Techniques for Practitioners: Reaching the Hardest to Reach Youth Through Community-led Interventions,” was moderated by Ambar Zobairi, IFES Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, and facilitated by Augusta Featherston, Youth Adviser and Technical Liaison at IFES’ Center for Applied Research and Learning. This highly interactive 90-minute session explored instructional methods – including cognitive behavior therapy, and experiential and service learning, among others – designed to promote youth engagement, specifically, that of at-risk youth. A portion of the workshop was dedicated to a lively debrief of the experiential small-group activities, as well as an in-depth discussion of the application of these instructional methods in post-conflict or transitional environments. Participant questions focused on best practices and lessons learned during international project implementation, findings from recent studies on behavior change of the beneficiaries, as well as the cost-effectiveness of such youth programs. The workshop concluded with practitioner insights into how these methods can be applied to diverse populations and environments.
IFES Senior Access and Inclusion Specialist Virginia Atkinson served as an expert discussant on a panel titled “Implementing Agenda 2030 for All: Multi-Sector and Cross-Movement Collaboration for Effective Inclusion of All Voices.” The panel addressed how cross- and multi-sector collaborations (e.g., collaboration between advocates working in the fields of gender, LGBTI, disability, and other marginalized groups) are critical in achieving effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Atkinson’s remarks focused on IFES’ global work in mainstreaming disability rights related to political participation, offering specific country-based examples of successful cross-sectoral programming, such as IFES’ focus on including youth with disabilities in its youth programming, as well as comments on future innovation within the disability rights sector. Participants also discussed the resources organizations need in order to employ effective cross-sectoral strategies, concluding that access to topical experts through public events such as this panel is valuable for practitioners.