The Youth Parliament (TYPF) was founded in 2002 by Ishita Chaudhry when she was 15 years old. It was co-created by young people originally as The Children's Parliament in 2002, in the aftermath of the Godhra Riots that took place in Gujarat, with the hope of bringing young people together from across the country to build a stronger understanding of Human Rights as well as an opportunity to work together and discover leadership skills on social issues they were passionate about through a safe, open and non-judgemental platform.
With leadership and guidance from Arshiya Sethi, the thought partnership of Bunker Roy of The Barefoot College in Tilonia and support from what became one of TYPF's longtime partners, the India Habitat Center, the Children's Parliament was formally launched on July 26, 2002. An in-depth youth-led dialogue with 300 urban school students was led by 3 inspiring teenagers, Ram Kiran, Devki and Ram Niwas, who traveled from the Children's Parliament from the Night Schools of The Barefoot College, discussing what young people felt about growing up in India, models of youth engagement in governance, and how collective action could be taken for young people to work together to understand diversity and develop critical thinking that enabled civic engagement.
What was launched as a monthly discussion forum at the IHC grew quickly in a year into The Youth Parliament, a movement that grew from a team of 30 volunteers into a core team of 150 young people. TYPF's first 5 years were spent working out of Ishita's family's home, in a garage where young people self-organized into teams to conduct research, resource mobilization, training and undertook community programmes to address social justice issues. At the end of each year, projects would be 'handed over' to a new cohort of volunteers, and a core group of 30 young people comprised staff, transitioning leadership cycles every 2-4 years.
In 2007, with the help of UNICEF, The Youth Parliament registered as The YP Foundation, a youth-led trust (whose deed and mandate was collectively drafted by 150 staff and peer educators at the time!), with the vision of enabling young people to be empowered to they could access critical information and services that enabled their rights, with a focus on advancing the rights of young women and girls. As TYPF's capacities, resources and learning improved, it expanded to working across 18 states in India, in rural areas and more diverse groups of young people including those from marginalized and low income backgrounds.
The organization's flagship programmes have grown into core areas of work over the years, in Advocacy and Policy, Governance (The Right to Information Programme), Advancing the Independent Arts (Silhouette), Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (The Facilitative Branch/ Know Your Body, Know Your Rights), Mental Health (VOICES), Life Skills and Youth Leadership (Blending Spectrum) and Digital Media and Learning (The Butterfly Project). TYPF also undertook special projects on understanding Gender and Sexuality (Kaivalya), addressing Conflict and Peacebuilding (The Bridge) and Relief and Rehabilitation (What Now?).
TYPF's history thus laid the foundations for the issues we now work on, as well as the methodologies that we use. More than 650 people have worked as staff and peer educators in the organization since 2002. With continued commitment to our values, the beauty of YP's journey is in how each generation of young people uniquely interpret how best to carry forward this vision and define for themselves the approach that represents their ideas, critical thinking and creativity.