Young people in rural areas should not be seen as someone that was left behind!

I live in a small hill village with around 30 inhabitants, I attended primary school in a small town, down the valley, around 10 minutes car ride from my home. A small town by any standards but for me it felt like the nicest city ever. I hated my village and everytime I met someone new I told them I am from that town, completely denying that I am a rural girl. It took me many years, a drivers licence and times abroad that I started being proud of where I am from. Few years ago when we were creating European Youth Goal 6: Moving rural youth forward, a young girl from a Scadinavian country said that after she moved back to her small village, her friends see her as someone that was left behind and that made me reflect on my life and all my rural friends that decide to stay in their small villages. I imagine it sounds weird why I am telling this story, but this feeling is what also motivates me in my decision to run for the Vice President of European Youth Forum (YFJ). No young person should ever feel inadequate, like they don’t matter, like they are missing out on life just because they are living in a rural area.

Although the problems of rural youth are no different than the problems of urban youth, the approaches towards finding solutions for all young people are different. We need to have representation of the young people we are talking about. And as we do not like when old people are telling us what we as young people need and want, we should also not say what different groups of young people need and what. That is why strong representation of members of YFJ is needed. Knowing the work of many members of the European Youth Forum I believe that there is no umbrella organisation in the world that has an enormous amount of knowledge.

As part of Slovenian Rural Youth and Rural Youth Europe I got in depth knowledge on what rural youth needs, among many, access to quality employment, quality education to good infrastructure and access to everyday decision making.

With my personal experience and with my knowledge that I gained through the years I am more and more passionate about investing my time and my energy in making the lives of all young people especially the ones coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and remote/rural areas better. Taking on many roles in different youth NGOs on different levels from, member to executive board member to president, I have a deep understanding of the situation youth organisations and young people are facing.

There are many things I want to do if becoming part of the European Youth Forum but since 2 years go by very fast and I believe in the importance of prioritisation I have focused my vision into 5 points that cover internal governance, external representation and policy orientation.

My vision for the organisation and my role of Vice President is:

– to ensure sustainable governance and strong member engagement;

– YFJ as a important cross sectorial stakeholder;

– to bridge the gap between INGYOs (International Non-Governmental Youth Organisations) and NYCs (National Youth Councils);

– to take an integrated approach to sustainable development;

– to minimise the urban and rural divide.

And above all I believe that the only way to do things is to do them together. So I do hope that as a Vice President of the European Youth Forum I will be able together with all of the members of the European Youth Forum work on realising the Rural Youth Europe slogan: “Breaking boundaries and building bridges” and together strive for a common vision of the biggest youth platform in the world.