Institute of Peace and Secular Studies (IPSS) is a humble, community youth organization in Lahore, Pakistan which aims to empower Pakistani youth and groom them to face up to today’s challenges. Whereas most of the youth in Pakistan is unable to get a decent education, IPSS intends to reach out to as many youngsters as possible and ready them to shape their own future.
Pakistan boasts one of the largest youth population percentages around the globe, standing currently at an estimated 63%. According to British Council’s ‘The Next Generation’ report, this percentage will continue to rise until 2045, after which the percentage of adults will overtake that of youth. Through its youth, then, Pakistan has an immense opportunity to avail. The question is whether the youth population will translate to a demographic dividend or disaster. It is a window of opportunity for Pakistan to reap social and economic benefits that depends on it’s young generation.
IPSS was founded some 15 years ago by Diep Saeeda, a lawyer and an ardent social activist, who intends to provide a platform for the youth to indulge in liberal discourse. Speaking about why their activities are mostly youth-centric, she says:
The youth in our country needs to be empowered, to be heard. It needs to come forth and speak and view both sides of the reality. This platform is meant to provide them with the alternate discourse towards different political, economic and social issues. It also lets them share their opinions with others and gain a valuable feedback.
Overshadowed by an economic, social and humanitarian crisis in the wake of a bloody war against terrorism, Pakistan’s sole hope lies with the youth. Education and social awareness, Diep says, are key to ensuring that Pakistan’s future is not as nightmarish as the present.
IPSS regularly organizes different events specifically for youth. These include Open Mic nights every week, film screenings and lectures, and workshops for intellectual discussions.
Open Mic events enable its young participants to share their thoughts in the form of different, interactive snippets. These include essays, papers, articles, poetry, songs, music compositions and more or less anything that helps one express thoughts and creativity.
Film screenings are also held on a regular basis. The films are carefully chosen, to engage youth in a thoughtful 2-hour visual journey of culture, history and philosophy.
IPSS also engages youth in peaceful demonstrations and vigils over different socio-political issues. This encourages youth to exercise their right to have a say in these issues.
The aim of the IPSS is to empower youth, giving them a platform to raise their voice and share their thoughts with peers, in a society that would often rather see them silenced.