Youth and their role in societal development drew wide attention once again as the world nations celebrated the International Youth Day (IYD) 2018 on August 12, 2018.
With the theme #SafeSpacesForYouth, IYD 2018 called on the urgent need for creating a safe and secure platform for youth that can offer them space to express views and engage in key discussions and related activities across diverse platforms.
“Safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth,” #UnitedNations said in a statement, adding that youth from diverse groups and those from outside the local groups should be assured of self-worth and respect.
“Youth from different race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community. When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion,” reads an official release.
International Youth Day 2018: Nepal’s Case
Nepal is one country that holds high significance for youth with majority of its population covered by youngsters.
The country celebrated #IYD2018 on a grand scale with wide range of programs all across.
The #NationalYouthCouncilNepal organized the ‘National Youth Conference’ program with around 500 youth participants.
The event saw wide range of discussions on ‘Safe Spaces for Youth’ and ways to support #NepaliYouth in their path towards achieving the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“The Constitutional Assembly Election in 2017 opened avenues for young people to be in parliament. It is now our responsibility to make that participation meaningful by creating platforms for opportunities”, says Mohammad Istiyak Rai, Nepali Minister for #UrbanDevelopment.
On the occasion, the International Labor Organization gave away special awards to various Nepali youth for their excellence and active participation in developmental activities across the country.
Addressing the program, #ILONepal Director and acting UN Resident Coordinator Richard Howard lauded youth participation in the country’s developmental path.
“Creating safe space for youth is vital but doing so we need to ensure no youth is left behind. We are committed to create safer space for youth within the spirit of the SDGs & ensuring everyone has an equal representation on it”, says the #UNNepal Coordinator.
Speaking about Nepal ‘s Case, UN says that Nepal currently has the largest productive youth population compared to previous years.
“About 35 percent of the population is below the age of 15 while 57 percent are between the productive ages of 15-59 years and another 25 percent are expected to reach the working age within a decade based on population projections. There are more than six million adolescents, of whom about half are girls— one-fourth of the country’s total population. This is a huge opportunity,” says United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
#UNFPA considers this as a rare opportunity for Nepal and cautions that this window of opportunity might close in the next 20-30 years.
In this regard, it urged the country and its relevant partners to encourage more investment in #YouthDevelopment for maximizing the demographic dividend.
They can be a powerful force for progress if equipped with education, health and skills to realize their full potential, adds UNFPA.
“UNFPA will continue to focus on young people in Nepal, helping them participate in decisions affecting them, supporting the provision of comprehensive sexuality education, providing quality reproductive health services and strengthening their ability to advance human rights and development issues,” it said in an official release.
UNFPA has been working with the Government of Nepal and partners to empower young people and to enable them to become drivers of change.
Besides global aid organizations, Nepal has the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON) that acts as a common platform for the local youth population and in creating a collaboration among youth organizations in Nepal.
Over the years, #AYON worked with various local and global organizations for the development of Nepal society.
British Council Nepal, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (#ICIMOD), International Council on Management of Population Programmes (#ICOMP), International Labor Organization (ILO), Ministry of Local Development, National Planning Commission of Nepal, The Asia Foundation, UNFPA, #UNESCO Korea, #UNAIDSNepal and USAID-OTI are among them.
UN ‘Safe Spaces’ for Youth
UN defines four areas as key to youth participation in the development process.
Special global initiatives that support youth development across the world include:
“As more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters, and the availability and accessibility of safe spaces becomes even more crucial to make this a reality,” says UN.
International Youth Day marks the celebration of the role of youth in social development.
The UN General Assembly announced August 12 of every year as the International Youth Day in an announcement in 1999. The annual day marks the celebration of the role of youth (men and women) as key partners in safeguarding & promoting human rights and development.
The Day is also seen as an opportunity to increase awareness about the challenges and hardships of the youth, globally.