Interview with Karin Ahlbäck, the youngest World Scout Committee member
Youth Wall: We asked Karin to tell us more about her scouting journey
Karin: The starting point of Karin's journey through World Scouting is a never ending interest in trying new experiences and leadership roles. While involved at the regional level of the Guides and Scouts of Finland, she was approached at 17 to become the international representative of her NSO during an event near Paris, France, to discuss the creation of a Rover network (which later became Rovernet of the European Region). She still considers this event one of her best international experience and it opened up to her the possibilities that WOSM has to offer.
Karin's next milestone was the World Scout Youth Forum and Conference in Korea 2008. Her NSO runs an open call to recruit participants, and she was selected as a representative as far as 1.5 years before the event. During the consequent preparations for the Youth Forum, the idea came up of her of running for Youth Advisor to the World Scout Committee - and following a successful election she hence first joined the World Committee in an advisory role.
In advance of the Brazil World Scout Conference 2011, the time felt "right" and her NSO, somewhat controversially, decided to put her up for election to the World Scout Committee. Karin made a strong election and became the youngest voting member of the World Scout Committee since the founding of WOSM, a position she is now holding for the second triennium.
In the Committee, she has worked extensively in Educational Methods, e.g. renewing the World Scout Youth Programme Policy and creating WOSM's leadership model, and she is now responsible for WOSM Communication and External Relations.
Youth Wall: How to promote youth participation?
Karin: "It is very important to open up doors so that young people can prove themselves. They will deliver - if just given the opportunity! Another key enabler is to engage people early so they can gain training and experience. Effective work in decision- making roles such as on the World Committee requires a certain background knowledge and understanding of how WOSM works and how to make things happen. This is not a question of age but whether you had the chance to build this capacity. Here adults in Scouting have a decisive role in providing these opportunities for growth."
Karin also does not believe in parallel structures as decision-making fora. She would for example encourage NSOs to have long term plans when engaging young people in World Scout Youth Forums to ensure that they afterwards get engaged in meaningful responsibilities, in the NSO or WOSM, and can use their knowledge and experiences for the benefit of the Scout Movement.
Youth Wall: Any particular message for young people?
Karin: "Keep pushing! Every young person has the right to be heard. It can be difficult if you need to fight against the norm so you need to be prepared to work harder than the people around you. But it is doable. Change happens slowly, just keep pushing and you can truly change the world."