From Chitral in the northern reaches of Pakistan, Hina Hazrat is enabling young people around the world to turn their ideas into action. Last year, her digital youth network was selected as runner-up at the World Summit Youth Awards out of more than 1 200 contestants from 122 United Nations member states.
The annual World Summit Youth Awards brings together young developers and digital entrepreneurs under 30 years of age, who use internet and mobile technology to put United Nation's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) into action and make a difference. The Award is one of the largest forums that recognises people working to achieve the MDGs. An international jury of young multimedia and IT experts and social entrepreneurs from 15 countries, select the best entries in each of six categories.
Twenty-year-old Hina, along with her 15 core team members from Karachi, Chitral, Hunza and Gojal, formed The Youth Republic (TYR) – a volunteer-driven global digital network that provides a platform to youth all over the world. Established as part of a social action project, TYR grew into an international network reaching 42 countries. It helps to strengthen inter-cultural dialogue, voice their opinions, support multilingualism and to work for a better tomorrow by forming global partnerships.
“[TYR] is a global youth platform where people from all over the world come together and work for a constructive future and collective progression,” says Hina. The basic premise of the network is that with a large proportion of the world's population aged 14–24, the social media platforms frequented by this age group can be used effectively to raise awareness and mobilize youth.
The Pakistani project earned a runner-up position in the “Create your Culture” category. The official public celebration of the winners and runners-up was held for the first time in World Information Technology and Services Alliance's 18th World Congress on Information Technology, in Montreal, Canada.
Platform for action
The Youth Republic has so far completed 13 action projects, impacting lives of a large number of people all around the world. One such project was the Polio Eradication movement in Pakistan, for which Hina, along with other volunteers in the the TYR team, worked to create awareness among the people of Pakistan on the basic need of oral polio vaccine. The project is estimated to have reached around 10 000 people.
Among the other projects that TYR has also undertaken is one that builds awareness around environmental stewardship, and another that engages senior citizens in recreational activities. TYR regularly holds web-based competitions, motivational activities and events to engage youth from around the world.
When she's not working on TYR, Hina Hazrat is a blogger, writer, activist, an award-winning debater and has been a Girl Guide for the last 12 years. The International Human Rights Commission recently appointed her as Ambassador of Goodwill and Youth Development for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. She was also selected to attend the Challengefuture Summit 2012 in Bled, where she met the President of Slovenia and shared details of her projects in Pakistan.
“My idea of establishing The Youth Republic was inspired by my family's involvement in social work and our Jamat's strong social and community network,” says Hina. She sees TYR as a demonstration of what can be achieved when young people stand up and act together for a common cause, and hopes that the platform will enable more young people to put their social action ideas to work, find partners for their projects and collectively work for a better world.
This story was adapted from an article published in The Ismaili Pakistan magazine in December 2012.