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International Youth Day: Youth Voices Matter

International Youth Day: Youth Voices Matter

As we celebrate the International Youth Day 2020 running under the theme “Youth engagement for Global Actions”, it is of paramount importance to engross the youth in decision making at the national, regional and global level to iron out pressing issues that affect them daily.

Currently, the youth dominates 16 per cent of the global population. Over the past years, young people have been side-lined when it comes to a decision making at national, regional and global level hence this year’s International Youth Day theme seeks to highlight how the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how youth representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.

Through the pledge to Leave No One Behind introduced by the United Nations in 2015, 2020 should be a turning point for the voices of young people to be heard at a global level and their plights should be considered and cooperated within Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at fast track progress.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 as a universal call of action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030 should not side-line the youth as they are the most affected by poverty as a result of the high rate of unemployment.

The World Youth Report stipulates that in employment, 71 million young people are unemployed; and millions more are in precarious or informal work. Disparities within and between countries in education and employment among youth are stark, with gender, poverty, rurality, disability, and migrant/refugee status all being significant elements of disadvantage. For instance, about 156 million youth in low- and middle-income countries are working poor (ILO), while almost 30 per cent of the poorest 12- to 14-year old have never attended school.

Inclusion of Young people in decision making for Global actions is necessary to achieve SDGs in every context. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, enabling the engagement of youth in formal political mechanisms does increase the fairness of governmental processes by reducing democratic deficits, contributes to better and more sustainable policies, and also has symbolic importance that can further provide to restore trust in public institutions, especially among youth.

Most challenges young people are facing currently such as high rate of unemployment, poverty and gender inequality require concerted global action and the meaningful engagement and participation of youth to be addressed adequately.