Youth from different groups on 28 August, vowed to build an environment of peace in the digital space at a dialogue styled “Peace Talk Café", organised by United Nations development Programme (UNDP) in the capital.
The dialogue was arranged to expand the space between youth and speakers from diverse backgrounds, underlining the fact that, building peace in not only the responsibility of technical specialists, rather the youth has a strong role to play. This is a part of UNDP’s on-going Digital Khichuri Challenge, which is a youth engagement platform that aims to create a peaceful and inclusive society.
Addressing the youths, Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh said, “If we want to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 16, which is ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’, we need to bring peace in every sphere of life including social media and digital space. Peace Talk Café is an initiative to give youth a platform to discuss this issue and work for a peaceful and tolerant society.”
She further added, “When your message creates harm, it is no longer free speech, it is just hate speech and when you see hatred on social media, do your part to change that, your message of positivity can certainly make an impact.”
“Music plays a tremendous role in our culture, it can be a weapon against any negative force,” said acclaimed musician and songwriter Bappa Majumder. “It is important to practice art and culture in school and society,” he urged the youth.
Samia Haq, associate professor at BRAC University pointed out the socioeconomic pressure that today’s youth have to battle. “A question that we have to face constantly is about our identity – and when we attempt to answer this question, it brings up the many faults in our society in terms of class, gender, and more,” she said, “Often times, identity politics give way to a highly divided society. If we can build platforms through art, education, or even research, then these faults can be addressed.”
“Right now, everyone has a platform to voice their opinions, that is social media. But I believe many of us have noticed that hatred is much louder on social media than positivity,” said Ayman Sadiq, founder of Robi 10 Minute School.
Highlighting the importance of diversity, speakers said the society cannot progress without the combined effort of people of every community, ethnicity, religion, and race.
Tousif Tanzim Ahmed of Positive Bangladesh, the team that was first runner-up of Digital Khichuri Challenge, said, “We want to change the growing culture of negativity and hatred. We want to teach the youth to think positive and represent Bangladesh in a positive light globally,” he said.
Among others Mahmuda Afroz, Head of Governance Cluster, Robert Stoelman, Senior Programme Manager and Md Abdul Quayyum, Head of Communications, UNDP Bangladesh were also present.