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Tools for social cohesion: gender equality, dialogue and sports
03 - Good Health & Well Being

UNESCO New Delhi held the next three sessions of its “Harnessing Youth Action for Social Cohesion” series, focused on training educators, policymakers and young leaders from Sri Lanka and Maldives on 30 August, 8 September, and 12 September 2022.
The fourth session of the series on gender was conducted on 30 August by the Equal Community Foundation, an NGO that works with men and boys to end gender-based discrimination, and emphasized the importance of addressing gender related inequalities and norms when promoting social cohesion among young people.

The trainers highlighted the role of engaging men and boys to achieve gender equality, including through assessing the needs of men, not using labels like “perpetrators” when speaking of boys or men and enabling men and boys to contribute to eradicating harmful gender inequalities in societies as agents of change. 

The session’s various case studies and activities helped the more than 100 participants become more sensitized and equipped to further train groups, individuals, and communities on the topic.

 In the following week, on 8 September, the fifth workshop on dialogue was organized as a part of the same series. The workshop, facilitated by United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), focused on the concepts of intercultural and interfaith dialogue, and explained how dialogue and fostering safe spaces relate to preventing extremism and encouraging harmony among youth.  

One of the most interesting aspects of the session included an interactive activity facilitated by UNAOC where certain statements were presented to the participants. Following a few generic statements at the beginning to make everyone comfortable, several personal questions about bullying and feeling lonely garnered significant responses from the participants. 

The activity exemplified the need to initiate conversations and showed how dialogue can be instrumental in creating safe and non-judgmental spaces that hold trust and harmony between individuals.

Shortly after, in the following week on 12 September, the sixth workshop of the series took place on the topic of the power of sports in creating positive social change.

The session was conducted by partners working on the Global Sports Programme, including the United Nations Office for Counter-Terrorism, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, UNAOC and the International Centre for Sport Security.

The session discussed the different aspects and effects of sports in societies (both negative in terms of leading to competition and positive in terms of promoting physical and mental health) and exemplified how sports can be used as a tool to build a sense of belonging and unity among youth, as well as strengthen important social skills, such as teamwork and fair play.

The next workshop will train the participant on basic entrepreneurial skills and discuss how innovativeness and economic impact relate to social cohesion. 

The eight-week series by UNESCO covers a range of dimensions to build the knowledge, resources and capacities required to encourage social cohesion among youth, working towards fostering peaceful, harmonious, and inclusive communities in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

For more information:
Euan Mackway-Jones or Maija Lyytinen: shs.ndl@unesco.org
Himali Jinadasa, h.jinadasa@unesco.org 


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