One of Young Bangla’s core promises is to amplify the unheard voices of youth and give them a say in the national policymaking dialogue. The “Young Bangla Facebook Live” program that has given hundreds of thousands of youth a unique opportunity to go one-on-one with policymakers, has been doing just that.
In just one-year time, Young Bangla has virtually engaged more than one million young men and women in one-on-one conversation with four young state ministers of the government and six young members of the parliament (MPs) on a wide range of issues including power and energy, ICT, foreign affairs, youth and sports development and employability, with a special focus on youth.
During a typical Young Bangla Facebook Live session, a young male or female state minister or an MP takes questions from a live audience on the Young Bangla Facebook page for an hour. The audience places the questions in the comment section or inbox, and the policymaker picks the questions they want to answer.
“Young Bangla Facebook Live has lessened the spatial barrier between youth interested in development and politics and the public representatives,” said Sabbir Bin Shams, executive director of Centre for Research and Information (CRI – the secretariat of Young Bangla.
Starting February 2017, Young Bangla has so far organized 10 such Facebook live sessions that have engaged as many as 1.1 million youth, who have asked a staggering number 5,300 unique questions on a wide variety of issues.
Young men and women in Bangladesh do not often get the chance to challenge ministers and MPs, particularly on burning issues; the Young Bangla Facebook live has given them that unique opportunities.
For example, during a live session in March 2017, Mr Nasrul Hamid, MP, state minister for power, energy and mineral resources, was literally bombarded with questions on the Rampal power plant issues by the Facebook audience. Not just for the young audience, it was a unique opportunity for the state minister as well who got to clarify the government’s stance on the environmental concern centering the power plant.
“Interestingly, there were questions on many such low-level corruption in the administration that the policymakers first came to know about during the live sessions,” said Israt Farzana, research officer at CRI and coordinator of the live sessions.
Young Bangla is now looking to expand the floor by diversifying the guest list to accommodate youth icons, sports personalities, media professionals, artists, actors and musicians.