Equitas Award recognizes exceptional work being done to engage children and youth by two organizations in Yemen and British Columbia

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Experience has demonstrated that young people are key actors in building more inclusive, equitable and resilient communities. Yet, too often children and youth are seen as the source of problems rather than solutions. This International Human Rights Day, Equitas is celebrating the work of two exceptional organizations that are applying innovative and effective approaches to engage and empower youth to bring about positive change in their communities. The recipients of the 2014 Equitas Award for Human Rights Education are:  the Youth Leadership Development Foundation – YLDF (Yemen) and the Society for Children and Youth of British Columbia – SCY (Canada). The Awards will be presented at two Gala Cocktails to take place in Toronto on March 18th and in Montreal on March 20th. The Equitas Award was created in 2010 to recognize individuals and organizations who are distinguishing themselves through educational programs that advance equality, social justice and respect for human dignity. It celebrates the critical role that educators play in building communities where human rights principles and values guide daily behavior and decision-making. Selection of the recipients is done by a jury which includes Equitas staff and Board as well as outside experts. Exceptional Achievements in Human Rights: In Yemen, the Youth Leadership Development Foundation (YLDF) is playing a unique role rooted in human rights values to provide young women and young men with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the social, economic and political development of their country.  The challenges are enormous as Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and has a history of civil conflict that continues today.  As a youth-led organization which has been promoting equality and opportunities for girls since 1998, it must also contend with very conservative cultural traditions.  With programs engaging youth in the capital Sana’a and around the country, the Jury was particularly impressed by YLDF’s innovative and effective approaches to combining youth engagement and occupational training as well as their successful programs to equip young women to assume leadership roles in their community. In British Columbia, Canada, the Society for Children and Youth of British Columbia has been improving the well-being of children and youth since 1974 using an approach rooted in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  SCY has established a reputation for programs that deliver changes in policy, legislation and practice in British Columbia and have an influence across Canada.  Working in a range of socio-economic contexts that reflect the diversity of the province, programs like their multi-media Child Rights Awareness Campaign engage children, youth, families, government and community leaders in joint actions to promote participation, inclusion and the realization of children’s rights in communities.  In selecting SCY, the Jury wanted to recognize in particular, the innovative approaches and tools they have developed to create spaces for effective participation for children and youth and for the influence these efforts have had in British Columbia and beyond the province’s borders. Previous recipients of the Equitas Award for Human Rights Education include former Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine (2010) and renowned Pakistani human rights defender, Asma Jahangir. The Award Ceremonies will be sponsored by Aimia, a global leader in loyalty management, and will take place in: Toronto: Tuesday, March 18th from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. TD Centre’s Lambert Room, 54th floor Montreal:  Thursday, March 20th from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. Cirque du Soleil’s 7e Ciel For more information about the Award, please contact Ian Hamilton, Executive Director at: ihamilton@equitas.org or Tel: (514) 954-0382 ext. 234. For information and to reserve tickets for the events, please contact Ronit Yarosky, Fund Development Officer at: ryarosky@equitas.org or Tel: (514) 954-0382 ext. 241.

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