The Hurford Youth Fellowship Program seeks to build the leadership skills and harness the potential of young democracy activists from around the world. Through the Program, young activists spend three months at the World Movement’s Secretariat, during which they expand their global connections, share experiences with other activists from democracy movements around the world, and contribute to the development of the World Movement for Democracy and the World Youth Movement for Democracy. Hurford Youth Fellows engage in strategic meetings; conduct research; and organize and lead presentations, online discussions, and information-sharing sessions on key democracy issues.
Upon the successful completion of each fellowship, the fellows serve as a regional/country focal point, working with the Hurford Youth Fellowship Alumni Network to remain involved and take the lead in World Youth Movement activities.
CURRENT HURFORD FELLOWS
Irene Ikomu is a Ugandan lawyer based in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to becoming a Hurford fellow, she was a consultant on civic spaces in the East and Horn of Africa, with the Heinrich Boell Foundation. Previously, she managed the Aga Khan Development Network’s East Africa Civil Society Initiative, supporting resilient civil society in Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania; and co-founded and managed Parliament Watch Uganda, a civic tech parliament monitoring initiative. Additionally, Ikomu was a Mandela Washington civic engagement fellow in 2014 and received the Young Female Lawyer of the Year Award by the Uganda Law Society in recognition of her contribution to Uganda’s democratic development.
During her fellowship, Ms. Ikomu is focusing on how young people are opening up new models of political participation outside of traditional political channels. Her discussions will examine what it means to challenge the political status quo in the digital age, and will explore this generation’s emerging voices and new ideas, harnessing lessons learned from their unique approaches to creating democratic space within their countries.
Anthony Q. Esguerra, Philippines (2018)
Anthony Q. Esguerra is a reporter and social media specialist for INQUIRER.net, the most-read news website in the Philippines. Having engaged in various regional youth forums, Esguerra is committed to promoting media literacy, independent journalism and freedom of the press in Asia. In 2011, Esguerra was elected president of the Philippine League of Development Communication, and in 2012 he was a fellow at the Institute on New Media and Journalism at Ball State University, a program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
During his fellowship, Anthony Esguerra will explore strategies that can promote media and information literacy to counter disinformation and fake news. He will develop a series of online discussions and tools that will examine how to constructively deal with trolls and propagandists, explore the role of journalists in preventing disinformation, and propose solutions that challenge attempts to ‘weaponize’ social media.
Margarita Maira, Chile (2018)
Margarita Maira is a Project Coordinator at Fundación Ciudadano Inteligente, a civil society organization that seeks to strengthen democracy in Latin America. Maira is committed to strengthening governance in Latin America and has led campaigns to engage youth in dialogue with decision makers and political candidates. Additionally, she has worked with emerging leaders in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, training them on how to develop advocacy strategies and engage in public policy. Her experiences include working with former Chilean President, Michelle Bachelet’s digital communications team and with Chile’s Ministry General Secretariat of the Government.
During her fellowship, Maira focused on how to create effective spaces where youth can relate to public policies and government issues. She explored practical ways to make governance a topic of interest for younger generations and opportunities to connect youth to democratic institutions.
Risham Waseem, Pakistan (2018)
Risham Waseem (Pakistan) is the Creative Director at Maati TV, a web TV channel that promotes peace and democracy in Pakistan. She also serves as the Media Officer at the Interactive Resource Center, a non-profit organization striving to build consciousness among marginalized populations using interactive art forms such as theatre and film. Waseem’s passion for art and activism inspired her to direct and produce several documentaries on countering violent extremism and addressing sexual harassment in Pakistan. Additionally, her commitment to civic participation led to her involvement in forum theatre, where she has performed in plays on issues related to human rights and democracy all over Pakistan.
During her fellowship, Waseem examined global media trends that promote populist and nationalistic narratives that discredit democracy, shrink civic space, and threaten youth political participation. Additionally, Waseem worked to develop short digital stories in the form of mini web series, to counter the misconceptions associated with democracy.
Najmin Kamilsoy, Azerbaijan (2017)
Najmin Kamilsoy is a human rights activist and international relations coordinator for the NIDA Civic Movement, a pro-democracy youth organization that defends constitutional and human rights and promotes democratic values in Azerbaijan. Most notably, he has led international advocacy campaigns for the release of political prisoners and has been successful in supporting the release of fellow activists, including his father, prominent human rights defender, Intigam Aliyev.
During his fellowship, Kamilsoy focused on how to confront obstacles to emerging democracy youth movements and conducted global discussions on youth activism in restrictive environments; academic freedom and institutional autonomy; and the impact of unemployment on youth participation.