UNFPA calls for efforts to empower youth

August 17, 2015, 9:26am

UNFPA calls for efforts to empower youth

The United Nations’ Population Fund (UNFPA) on the occasion of International Youth Day on Wednesday, 12 August 2015 emphasised the need to address the obstacles confronted by young people, and to invest in them towards building a better future for humanity.
The theme of the day was “Youth Civic Engagement”.  
In his statement marking the day, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA Executive Director said “on 65 countries, more than half of the population is younger than 24.
Denying these young people the right to meaningful participation in decision-making is a gross violation of their human rights and a failure of the democratic process. It is also a waste of human capital which can propel nations towards development.
Young people are driving change towards a better future for all in every corner of the world.
They are leading global action on climate change, campaigning to end discrimination, speaking out to uphold democracy and freedom of speech, connecting our world with innovations in information technology and building peace in societies ravaged by war,” he stated.
“In a world of increasing conflict, young people must be our strongest partners if peace and security are to win out over war,” said Osotimehin.
“We need their fullest capability and broadest engagement for people, the planet and prosperity to flourish,” he continued.
In September, world leaders will formally adopt “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, a historic, transformative, inclusive, universal agenda for people across the world.
To this, Osotimehin concurred.
“The next 15 years offer a unique opportunity for a demographic dividend, which will accelerate conflict recovery and sustainable economic growth and development in many countries if we empower, support, educate and create employment for young people today.
Young women and men need protection from violence, and they have a right to access essential education and health services, including for their sexual and reproductive health. They also have the right to be at the tables where decisions and peace are made”, he noted.
“Yet, for the most part, young people remain excluded from decision-making processes. Although 16 per cent of the world’s population is 20-29 years old, this age group represents only 1.6 per cent of parliamentarians, most of whom are men. Young people rarely join political parties, and the majority do not vote in elections,” he stressed.  
To fully participate in the lives of their communities, young people need to overcome multiple legal, social and cultural barriers and discrimination, underlined the executive director.

by Emma Mbekele