August 31, 2021, aspired to become social journalists, 18 competitively selected youth from across Southeast Asia took part in the ASEAN Youth Social Journalism (AYSJ) Contest 2021, conducted virtually with support from the ASEAN Foundation, the Embassy of Ireland, and the U.S. Government in partnership with ASEAN’s Senior Officials Meeting on Youth. Recognizing that youth have a unique perspective to share from their experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, the theme of this year’s AYSJ Contest was “#ASEANYouth and COVID-19 Response, Recovery and Resilience.”
In early June, the finalists, two per participating member state, took part in a regional online workshop to learn more about what social journalism means, the tools and skills of the trade, and how to reach wider audiences about issues they care about. Following the workshop, the finalists formed teams by country to plan and execute their online campaigns. The online campaigns – conducted over a period of one month – covered a range of topics, from addressing rising rates of domestic violence experienced by young women during lockdown to raising awareness about considering needs of persons with disabilities in public health measures to countering disinformation online about the pandemic.
Based on campaign performance, how compelling the content was, and its creativity, judges from partner organizations had the difficult task of selecting the top three teams. First place went the team from the Philippines, Jefson Romeo Felix and Maria Isabel Seares, for their campaign to combat health illiteracy and disinformation online. Second place went to the team from Malaysia, Hanusha Durganaudu and Wern Sze Goh, for their campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence and support services for victims during the lockdown; and third place went to the team from Vietnam, Vi Nguyen Nhat Hoang and Vinh Quang Pham, for their campaign to tackle plastic waste with food delivery and takeout skyrocketing as people sought to socially distance and stay home. The U.S. Mission to ASEAN, in addition to the U.S. Agency for international Development (USAID), ASEAN Foundation, the Irish Embassy, wish to extend congratulations to the winners and recognize all AYSJ 2021 finalists for their impressive and inspiring campaigns during this extraordinary and challenging time.
This year’s contest was built upon earlier AYSJ Contests held since 2017, with joint support from the ASEAN Foundation and the U.S. Government, through the ASEAN-USAID Partnership for Regional Optimization in the Political-Security and Socio-Cultural Communities (PROSPECT). The U.S. Government is committed to promoting youth engagement and empowerment by using their voices, creativity, and energy in helping address critical issues in their communities as well as the wider ASEAN Community.