Supporting young people to build social cohesion in Bhutan

On 24 May 2022, as part of a regional series for strengthening social cohesion, UNESCO’s New Delhi Office together with the UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP) and the Section for Inclusion, Rights, and Dialogue at UNESCO Headquarters, organized a training opportunity for civil society leaders in Bhutan.

As part of UNESCO’s ‘Engaging Youth for Social Cohesion’ series’, the training was the fifth of such workshops in South Asia, following previous sessions held in IndiaBangladeshSri Lanka and the Maldives to support community actors in their work to strengthen well-being and socio-emotional resilience among youth.

The session in Bhutan gathered some 30 participants, including representatives from universities and grass roots organizations, and trained them in new and engaging ways to promote resilience, dialogue and solving conflicts non-violently in their communities, including through UNESCO’s Story Circles approach.

Sharing stories is a great way to forge connections. The Story Circles activity really brought the group together.

Workshop participant

Participants were also given the opportunity to discuss challenges and risks to social cohesion through simulation activities, analyzing various vulnerabilities which can drive conflict. In groups, they were prompted to identify solutions, as well as social structures and systems that are needed to strengthen social cohesion and dialogue in different contexts.

The workshop broadened my thinking, particularly around exploring various solutions to current issues. I’ll be applying the activities in my work with rural youth groups.

Workshop participant

Following the session, the youth and civil society leaders will be supported to utilize the approaches within their own communities and contexts. Benefitting from access to a regional platform for knowledge sharing and a series of peer-support sessions, UNESCO will help the participants to engage over 500 community beneficiaries across Bhutan, strengthening socio-emotional resilience among youth throughout the country.