Interview with Ms. Ediola Pashollari, Secretary General of World Assembly of Youth (WAY)

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Ms. Ediola Pashollari is of Albanian nationality and holds a Masters in Business Administration (UK), a Masters of Arts in Political Science (UK), a Masters in Entreprenology (USA) and also a Bachelors Degree in LLB (UK). She is presently the Secretary General of the World Assembly of Youth (WAY) which is headquartered in Melaka, Malaysia. Through her capacity as the Secretary General of WAY and the Director of the World Youth Institute (WYI), she is responsible for the administration of the Secretariat and coordination of regional and international programmes and events. She is also the liaison for the membership and affiliate organizations, representative of the organization at the United Nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental platforms, and ministries responsible for youth. She coordinates humanitarian and relief programmes around the world and reports to the President, Executive Committee, and General Assembly.


To find more about WAY:


1. First of all, thanks for being with Sharing4Good, Ediola. You have been very active in the volunteering sector and youth empowerment. How did you start? Which is your story?

My journey as a volunteer started way back in 1999 when my family and I moved to Malaysia. Then, I was volunteering with the Malaysian Youth Council, Asian Youth Council, and International Youth Center and was motivated to look into volunteering as a way for young people to express themselves and contribute to the community. It was through volunteering that l learnt to interact with other young people and youth leaders from different backgrounds and youth empowerment organisations.

It was in mid of 1999 that WAY headquarters was relocated from Denmark to Malaysia and l joined WAY as a volunteer before l was hired as a permanent staff. It was then that l looked for different ways to bring young people together for a common goal, which is why in 2006, I initiated the WAY Volunteer Programme as a platform for youth empowerment and decision making.

2. What would you suggest to a vulnerable youth from a developing country on pathways to escape her cycle of social exclusion and thrive at life?

Education plays a very crucial factor in developing the creative thinking ability of young people and providing all the necessary skills and knowledge that are required to shape a competitive and productive individual. Generally, education helps young people to prepare themselves for challenges that they are going to face during adulthood.

Therefore, I would suggest that young people must focus on education, not only formal education but also informal and non-formal education, such as: hard and soft skills development, entrepreneurship, and leisure activities, in order for them to further develop themselves. All stakeholders should work towards an educated population, with youth being their main concern. Policies have been put in place to promote education and its benefits to young people. Hence, various governments and private sector entities should have sponsorship programmes that are aimed at helping the less fortunate to afford education at all levels.

3. Now can you tell us about WAY?

The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) is the International coordinating body of national youth councils and organisations. Founded in 1949, an initiative was undertaken to establish a youth organisation in order to promote global cooperation and understating among the young people of the world. Recognising the need for a universal youth organisation, youth leaders from national councils of all member countries of the United Nations where invited to attend an international conference in London. In August 1949, the international conference held at West Minster Hall in London established the World Assembly of Youth. Throughout the years, WAY has been located in London, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, and now it is based in Melaka, Malaysia.

Members at WAY are national youth councils and WAY currently has 140 member countries from around the world and it is the only organisation that tackles 21 youth issues. WAY was founded so as to bring young people from different societies, communities, and countries together to  share ideas, thoughts, and actions on how to improve cooperation on a global level and among the youth.


4. What are its future strategic priorities and interests? How do you see WAY in ten years from now, in 2028?

As an international-scaled organisation whose aims are not only at its contribution of actively resolving youth-related matters but also its coordination of national youth councils, World Assembly of Youth (WAY) has been known for its concern towards welfare of youth. Being an organization which closely involves with young people, WAY conducts researches on issues or problems arisen and other relevant matters involving young people from all around the world.

WAY is planning to open regional offices so that we could be able to reach out to young people on the grassroots level for development and sustainable projects. We have realised that youth in rural areas and under development countries are often left behind compared to their peers in cities and developed countries.

As the way forward in delivery of its activities, the World Assembly of Youth has developed a strategic plan that acts as a roadmap for its activities. The Millennium Plan of Action or MPAC is developed every 4 years during the General Assembly.

I believe that WAY is the benchmark to focus on youth development for projects and programmes globally.


5. What is WAY’s approach to promote volunteerism as a tool for youth empowerment?

At World Assembly of Youth (WAY) we recognise the effort put in by volunteers and the contribution they make to all programmes and activities in our global community. Since its establishment in year 2006, the World Assembly of Youth’s Volunteer Programme was initiated as a platform that links the youth all around the world that seeks to develop a dedicated group of young people who are willing to assist WAY in programmes and activities around the world. This programme works towards the elevation of youth and their development into leaders who are willing to donate some of their time and energy to support WAY in achieving its goals and aims.

This program aims at bringing together youth of different socio-economic status to interact and share ideas while fulfilling their duties as volunteers. It also strives to develop the youth by exposing them to an environment in which they get to realize their potential and explore their untapped capabilities.

Currently, WAY has over 900 volunteers from all over the world, striving to make a difference. Volunteers gain experience and become very innovative while participating in this programme, some of these innovative ideas they execute in their respective locations. They have the opportunity to meet people, make contacts, form relationships and thus gaining access to business-related benefits such as: career advice, job leads, business referrals, useful information, and emotional support.

6. Can you tell us something about the 18th Melaka International Youth Dialogue (MYD)” Youth Engineering a Sustainable Urbanization”?

The theme for the 18th Melaka International Youth Dialogue is ‘Youth Engineering A Sustainable Urbanisation’ and it has been selected to uplift ideas and leverage the role of young people towards attaining a strategic and sustainable urbanisation. Youth play a key role in delivering this promise and need to be viewed and treated as assets and drivers of sustainable development. There is currently a demographic “youth-bulge” in the developing world, where there are more people under the age of 25 today, totalling nearly three billion or almost half of the total global population. Hence, 1.3 billion of that total is between the ages of 12 and 24. These youth live, by and large, in cities and towns. The cities of the developing world account for over 90 percent of the world’s urban growth and youth account for a large percentage of those inhabitants.

If youth are not included in urbanisation and governance processes then they could become an obstacle to economic development. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to encounter the poorly designed urbanisation that does not cater for the needs of youth in which it shall eventually become a significant source of poverty and inequality. Exclusion of youth in such activities like policy making in regard to issues affecting them could lead to a stronger informal sector and higher marginalisation, which, in turn, could cause a rise in social conflicts and even threaten the economic, social, and environmental stability of the respective countries.

Additionally, the outcomes guided by this selected theme are expected to contribute favourably in youth development as well as betterment of societies as a whole.

7. Could you tell us something about the World Youth Institute at WAY?

The World Youth Institute (WYI) is the educational wing of WAY and it is geared to be a leading institution for empowerment and capacity building through education, training, and development programmes. This institute not only precedes the existence of an intellectual and practical platform that gathers youth from all over the world, but will foster global connections and enhance relationships between youth worldwide.

This institute has a significant role in providing the platform for youth activities. It aims to be the most outstanding and excellent institute ever founded in any nation setting new standards in quality. It promotes the growth of intellect and wit. Furthermore, it helps to promote culture, exchange of ideas and also strengthens the bond of countries of the world.


8. Any upcoming initiative in the pipeline that WAY is going to promote in 2018?

As an international-scaled organisation WAY has been specially conducting researches on issues or problems arisen and other relevant matters involving young people from all around the world. In line with that, selection of twenty-one youth-related topics has been, until now, decided. The filtration and selection of those twenty-one topics were based on our observation towards any youth-related issues, problems or other relevant matters and those that mostly affect the development, quality of life and welfare of, today, young people were then chosen. The number of the topics may be changed in future if we believe such additions or reductions are necessary and relevant towards the situation of young people at that particular period of time.

Currently, the twenty-one topics are divided into 14 youth-related issues including issues of girls and young women, HIV/AIDS, Armed Conflicts, Democracy, Disability, Drugs, Education, Unemployment, Health, Human Rights, Population, Inter-generational Relationships, Juvenile Delinquency and Poverty; 3 youth-related matters which are existed due to the trend of today life, including the matter of ICT, Globalization and Environment; and, at last, four topics which are closely related to the development of youth including the matters of Leisure-Activities, Volunteerism, Decision Making Process, Leadership Training and Human Development. Interestingly, these twenty-one youth-topics are correlated to each other; for example, the issue of young girls and women contains issues like HIV/AIDS, Education, Un/employment, Drugs, Healthy, Poverty and Juvenile Delinquency.

Youth participation leads to better decisions and outcomes, we at World Assembly of Youth established an epitome of an international society that works for the advancement of humankind through empowerment of those that are bearing the future: the youth. Through the passage of time, we have promoted inter-ethnic respect and fostered inter-cultural and international understanding and cooperation.

Giving young people a voice is our priority. As the way forward in doing so and delivering our activities, the World Assembly of Youth has developed a strategic plan that acts as a roadmap for its activities. The Millennium, Plan of Action or MPAC is developed every 4 years during the General Assembly.

WAY has facilitated the collection, compilation and dissemination of information pertaining to the needs of the world’s young people, and has provided a platform for the interchange of these ideas. Perhaps most importantly, it has spearheaded the formation of national youth councils in several territories, and thus provided young people in those nations with a unified voice.

9. Last but not the least would you say something about youth sector in your home country, Albania? The country has undertaken major transformation in the last decade, including major steps towards joining the EU. What are the major trends within the youth sector?

The youth constitutes between a third and a half of Albania’s population, and they are called to play a major role in its country’s development. For this to happen, though, work is needed in several areas. Currently, Albanian Government promotes education on democracy by engaging youth with institutions, such as: parliament and the local authorities. In addition, it encourages Albania's young people to participate in regional youth exchanges.

Albanian society experienced fundamental societal changes in the last few decades, including a modernising economy, individualisation, a rising symmetry in gender roles and more flexible life course organisations. Education in Albania is a national priority in a context of emancipation, progress and social development of the individual. All Albanians have equal rights to access education at all levels without discrimination refereeing of their social status, nationality, language, sex, religion, political beliefs, health situation, and economic level.

National Strategy for Development and Integration 2014-2020 (NSDI) – defines an integrated approach for the socio-economic development of the country as well as for the integration in the EU. Considering youth constitutes a third of total population and around 40% of the workforce of the country, the National Youth Action Plan 2015-2020 aims at designing transversal policies for the full integration of youth in schemes of health care, education, social work, and political participation, in order for them to become active member of society in all its facets.


There is a need to revise and strengthen the legal or institutional framework of the country at all levels, from national to local, as well as to rethink the governance mechanisms and processes at the core of these institutions in order to bring youngsters on board and to create youth structures attached to local and central government. The reform process of this framework should definitely involve youth. Young people are key agents for change, and they contribute by raising awareness and boosting the local communities’ responses in t

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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