Participants and special guests at the programme. Photo: Courtesy of UNDP

The Press Release was first published in The Daily Star (Initiative) Click here to read the original publication.

UNDP's Partnership a Tolerant, Inclusive Bangladesh (PTIB) organised a showcase, featuring ten youth-led innovative organisations, which have previously won the Digital Khichuri Challenge, at Impact Hub Dhaka recently.

The event was attended by His Excellency Mr Vikram K Doraiswami, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Sudipto Mukerjee, Resident Representative, UNDP, along with representatives from various national and international NGOs and key actors from the startup ecosystem.

The Digital Khichuri Challenge is a social hackathon that brings together and supports the youth in creating narratives and platforms that promote peace, tolerance, and diversity to actively counter hateful and divisive narratives. Over the last five years, Digital Khichuri Challenge has had eight iterations in four cities, reaching over 17 million people both online and offline.

The ten youth-led organisations invited to the showcase mainly focused on social issues such as peace, tolerance, social cohesion, combating hate, digital and media literacy, gender justice, safe cyberspace for girls, and migrant workers amongst others.

Peace Maker Studio, Chalkboard Communications, TransEnd, Positive Bangladesh, Punchforon, Cyber Teens Foundation, NAW, Probhash Kotha, Barisal Youth Society, and Swayong, were among the Digital Khichuri Challenge teams who showcased their impact at the event.

"There are a lot of creative minds here in Bangladesh. If I ask any Bangladeshi youth if they would choose between a high-paying job or a social welfare job, they would mostly go for the latter, which I find very encouraging", said Sudipto.

"I feel very inspired listening to the young innovators here", he further added.

"This, to me, is an incredible opportunity to see the energy and dynamics that this country has among its youth" smiles Mr Vikram Kumar Doraiswami, the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh. "The fact that so many of youths with such skills are willing to set aside life and energy to create something that makes the country a little bit better for everybody else, suggest that your generation gives us hope that things might be better."

"Despite limited resources, our young innovators have been working passionately in solving pressing social problems," said Tosnimun Nahar, Project Officer, PTIB project. "Their strength truly lies in their creativity, passion and willingness to contribute to the society."

"Our young innovators from the Digital Khichuri Challenge have been constantly disrupting the landscape with their innovative and intuitive initiatives," said Farhana, Communications Officer of the PTIB project. "We are very glad that we have been able to support their showcase their impact to relevant stakeholders, opening up the avenue for them to pursue new areas of collaboration." she said.

"Digital Khichuri Challenge has been a tremendous aid in becoming the multi-disciplinary social organisation we are today," said Zawad Alam, Head of Communications, Chalkboard, Champion of the Digital Khichuri Challenge 2021.  "Their mentorship, funding, and guidance hold a significant role in helping us fight social stigmas."

"We create comics based on real-life stories addressing the social stigmas and injustice that women and girls still face in our society," said Shahrier Pranto, a member of the NAW team who were the runner-up for Digital Khichuri Challenge 2021. "It has been a guiding hand for us, as we are a new startup and its presence has smoothened our journey quite a bit up till now. We are very eager to work with this again."

At the end, Robert, Stoelman, Project Manager, PTIB also shared a few words. "The young people don't spend a lot of time in bureaucracy," he said. "If they believe in a cause and want to make a change, they drive straight to action."

"I think if we want to make Bangladesh a better place, we need to listen to the youth on how they want to do it," he concluded.

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