The MenEngage Youth Reference Group met in Kigali, Rwanda

From 11-14 December the Youth Reference Group of MenEngage Alliance met in Kigali, Rwanda. Fourteen young leaders representing all regions within the Alliance gathered to discuss and strategise on strengthening youth engagement and leadership within MenEngage Alliance at all levels.

The meeting

MenEngage Alliance has made a deliberate and strategic commitment to prioritize youth leadership and engagement. Established in 2016, the Youth Reference Group is the dedicated working group of MenEngage Alliance for the agenda of Youth Engagement and Leadership, led by youth and young leaders from across the Alliance. Nominated as the decision making body of the Youth Group, the Youth Reference Group comprises young activists, experts and leaders who hold a crucial role in steering the Alliance’s work at local, national, regional and international levels. It offers leadership and strategic direction and decision making to strengthen youth involvement through the implementation of MenEngage Youth Leadership Strategy. 

Check more about our work on youth and the story of the Youth Reference Group here

While meeting for the first time in-person in Kigali, the group aimed to develop strategy and enhance collaboration between group members and the regions they represent. This resulted in the update of the Youth Reference Group work-plan from 2022 to 2024, and the collective development of action plans to realize MenEngage Alliance’s political vision outlined in the strategy document. They focused on the implementation and follow-up of the Alliance’s Youth Strategy, Building and Engaging Youth Leaders Strategy, which was launched in 2021. The meeting facilitated critical and constructive exchanges, fostering collaborative planning. It laid the groundwork for collectively mobilizing around activities and initiatives to dismantle power inequalities and transform patriarchal masculinities, under the leadership of youth activists and leaders across the Alliance.

After four days of intensive participation and consultation, the group agreed on  several key outcomes, including  new communication and decision-making strategies, as well as a joint governance process – that led to the appointment of two Youth Reference Group co-chairs: Mehwish Arshad Kayani (South Asia) and Luis Enrique Martin Tuz (Latin America) and nominating Henry Mitchel to be the substantive youth representative in the MenEngage Alliance Global Board. With renewed energy, the 2024 work plan was revised and priority will be given to conducting a needs assessment for capacity strengthening of youth structures within the Alliance at national and regional level and organizing a Youth Symposium to amplify, reinforce and strengthen the work being ed by young people in advancing gender equality through a men and masculinities lens.


Our core principles

The Youth Reference Group reflected on and discussed  its principles and values, in line with the broader strategy, commitments, and goals of MenEngage Alliance. Set when the Youth Reference Group was founded, the eight Core Principles are: youth leadership, youth participation, transforming patriarchal masculinities, allyship & accountability, collaboration, human rights, intersectionality, and inclusivity. Through discussion and mutual exchange, each member brought their own experience and expertise to reaffirm these aspirations, objectives, and necessary work that the Youth Reference Group will undertake in the future.

I’m really hopeful after this conference that we did here in Rwanda for a lot of positive change and collaboration around the world. Also I hope through my role that I can share experiences and reflect on the ways we can tackle obstacles and work towards gender equality  – Raneem Diab, Lebanon, Middle East 


As part of the Youth Reference Group my aim is, on a personal level, to reinforce my capacities in terms of gender transformative approaches and engage more men for gender equality, preventing gender-based violence, advancing SRHR etc. And I hope that this experience will help me to reach more goals in my regional network, MenEngage Europe, to engage more boys and men into the network. – Andi Rabiaj, Albania, Europe

This is a moment for us to continue mobilizing, educating and liberating our fellow young people. For them to realize that it is important for us to work in collaboration, in partnership and not in isolation. We need to speak one language, we need to have one common goal and this common goal should be social justice through gender equality and dismantle patriarchy, and together we can. Ubuntu! – Irene Akoth Ogeta, Kenya,  Africa


20 February 2024


Youth voices at CSW67