A new documentary Meet the Changemakers showcases the work, ambitions, and dreams of Mongolia’s next generation of leaders who are embracing social inclusion at every turn.
To become a true changemaker, you also have to be an inclusion advocate. Just as democracy cannot thrive without equality, change cannot take root without an effort to include as many voices as possible.
In Mongolia, a group of up-and-coming democracy advocates are putting their ideas for social inclusion into action.
They’re featured in a new short film, Meet the Changemakers, which tells the stories of seven Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) Mongolia Fellows who share a passion for making the world a more inclusive place. This leadership development program — funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by World Learning — brings together young advocates, representing different perspectives and fields of practice, to take part in training, leadership opportunities, international exchanges, and opportunities to implement community projects.
Through participating in the program, LEAD Fellows come to fully understand the importance of inclusion. In their work, they’re exploring how inclusive practices help to reach more people and learning how to ensure the results of their work are accessible to more people, particularly those from disadvantaged and excluded groups.
“Before participating in this program, I barely knew what social inclusion was,” says Enkhjin Selenge, a marketing specialist who is featured in the film for his work with other LEAD Fellows on a documentary examining the issue of unemployment and exclusion. The team itself was composed of leaders from deaf advocacy and LGBT rights groups, from rural as well as urban areas. Selenge says that diversity made the project better: “LEAD made me think differently. I realized we can be stronger when we’re a diverse team and include everyone. If we want to develop our country, we have to be inclusive of everyone. There’s no other choice.”
Meet the Changemakers also tells the story of how emerging changemakers have come to see Mongolia’s democratic future inextricably linked to the pursuit of equality.
While democracy does not guarantee equality, it does provide opportunities to pursue equality. It is up to the citizens who make up a democracy to use that opportunity to act and seek solutions in the pursuit of progress and social inclusion.
In Mongolia, this demands confronting a number of important questions: How are women and girls continually impacted by poor access to justice? How are disabled young people impacted differently by Mongolia’s unemployment challenges? How is the Kazakh minority in Mongolia impacted differently by quality of education concerns? LEAD Fellows are working to address these questions because they realize that Mongolia’s development challenges — whether it be poverty, corruption, or the environment — cannot truly be addressed unless everyone’s voices are included, especially those who are not normally given an equal voice.
“My understanding is that there are many that did not have equal starting points and do not have access and opportunities,” says LEAD Fellow Ganchimeg Namsrai, a women’s empowerment advocate and senior researcher at the Press Institute of Mongolia.
Watch Meet the Changemakers below, and learn how Namsrai, Selenge, and their colleagues are addressing inclusion, each in their own unique way:
‘Meet the Changemakers’ reflects on LEAD Mongolia’s experience piloting the World Learning-led Transforming Agency, Access, and Power (TAAP) Initiative, a systematic approach to integrating inclusion throughout a project’s lifecycle by “tapping” into the voices, skills, and experiences of all people, including those marginalized and excluded from power. LEAD Mongolia is the first project to employ the TAAP approach, which seeks to ensure that participants have the skills to become practitioners of inclusive development. In the film, seven LEAD fellows share their program experiences, their work and future aspirations, as well as their thoughts about social inclusion. It is the story of how TAAP came to life in Mongolia — and holds the promise to support inclusion champions the world over.
Read more about the LEAD Fellows featured in Meet the Changemakers in the following profiles published in the Mongolian media:
Munkhbat Nergui [News.mn]
Ganchimeg Namsrai [News.mn]
Written by Adam LeClair, Project Director, Leaders Advancing Democracy (LEAD) Mongolia