Monday, 18 January 2021

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Young people are the "drivers of change"

2015 08 12Mexican Youth Build Structure for Disarmament UN Photo Evan Schneider

12.8.2015 - International Youth Day is taking place today, bringing youth issues to the attention of the international community. This year’s theme, “Youth and Civic Engagement”, emphasizes the importance of young people’s involvement in the initiatives that could change societies.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) observes that, “from social entrepreneurs to journalists, from voluntary workers to members of community organizations, young people contribute to shaping society to lead it towards political, cultural and economic renewal."

2012 08 12 Elyx YouthDayThere has been increasing attention on youth civic engagement by governments, United Nations (UN) entities, regional and multilateral organizations, and researchers. This positive development could prove to be very important. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stresses how youth civic engagement can be vital to the process of making the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reality.

“Volunteerism is an ideal way to improve society – and it is open to virtually everyone. Youth can also join forces with the United Nations as we move from forging the new SDGs to implementing them,” says Secretary General. The aim of the 17 SDGs is to secure future international development and goal number one is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere”.

Global youth unemployment rates have been rising rapidly during the last years making the International Youth Day as relevant as ever. In 2015 08 12 Elyx YouthDay21991, 50 percent of young people from 15 to 24 years had a job, whereas now, only 40 percent are employed.

“In countries rich and poor, unemployment rates for young people are many times those of adults,” said Ban Ki-moon during an International Labour Organization (ILO) event on youth employment last year. “Many are stuck in low wage work with no protection in the informal economy.”

A recent initiative, that tries to highlight this problem and at the same time engage young people, is the Network of Mediterranean Youth funded by the European Union and UNESCO. Southern Mediterranean countries share common challenges related to the social inclusion of youth, such as high unemployment, disinterest in civic engagement and economic marginalization. The network has established three working groups that all try to foster quality coverage of youth news and achievements.

“That is the spirit of UNESCO’s project to strengthen youth networks in the Mediterranean. Young people must be considered the drivers of change, and not only beneficiaries or targets,” says Irina Bokova.

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