Youth Civic Engagement


(Opinions expressed here are those of the author)

August the 12th is International Youth Day. It came about because the United Nations General Assembly wanted a day to celebrate the young people of the world. On December the 17th, 1999 the General Assembly declared International Youth Day at the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon, Portugal. The aim of the day is to focus on youth issues around the world. The idea is simple. The world’s youth make up over a sixth of the world population, therefore they need a special day. The UN defines a youth as anyone in the age group between 15 and 24 years old. Experts predict the number of youth in the world will greatly increase over the coming years, especially with a decrease in child mortality.
Outstanding young women and men are needed for the prevention, preservation and protection of our Planet “One World What We Want”. Many different things happen on International Youth Day. There are activities and events all around the world. These are run by youth and for youth. The day promotes the benefits that young people bring to our world. There are youth conferences on issues like education and finding a job and many charity events. Other things include concerts, parades and educational workshops in schools. There is a different theme each year. The first was “Addressing Health and Unemployment”. Other themes have been on youth and sustainable development, youth and tackling poverty, and youth and climate change. The more this day is celebrated, the more responsible our young people will be.
This year, the theme of the IYD is “Youth Civic Engagement” and it serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth. Thematic discussions and information campaigns will take place on 12 August 2015 across the world, to engage both Member States and the general public to understand the needs of young people, to implement policies to help them overcome the challenges they face, and to encourage young people into the decision-making process. These objectives of the International Youth Day 2015 will also be addressed during the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum, taking place in the autumn of 2015.
Transversal Themes are set for IYD and we have been learning to live together. Young women and men have got the creativity, the potential and the capacity to make change happen – for themselves, for their societies, and for the rest of the world. UNESCO’s work with and for youth is committed to empowering young women and men and helping them to work together to drive social innovation and change, participate fully in the development of their societies, eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace.  Youth are not just beneficiaries of this work – they are essential actors in finding solutions to the issues faced by young people in the world today. Their energy and leadership has been demonstrated across the world, and they must be fully engaged in social development themselves and supported in this work by their societies. The UNESCO Youth Programme works to create an enabling environment in which this goal can be achieved, by bringing youth voices to the fore and encouraging young people to come together to take action.
Hard Working (Effort), Will (Mind), Wish-to-do, Wisdom are four main requisites of victory to achieve our goal.   We know that the experience of being young can vary enormously across the world, and that ‘youth’ is often a fluid and changing category. The context is always an important guide in UNESCO’s definition of youth on specific occasions, and this definition is flexible and can vary between countries and regions.
Coming together is beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success, uniting together is significance. YOUTH is best understood as a period of transition from the dependence of childhood to adulthood’s independence. That’s why, as a category, youth is more fluid than other fixed age-groups. Yet, age is the easiest way to define this group, particularly in relation to education and employment, because ‘youth’ is often referred to a person between the ages of leaving compulsory education, and finding their first job.
Integrated and holistic approach and actions are extremely needed to combat three Diseases (HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis) because our youth suffer a lot. Approximately half of new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are in youth aged 15 to 24 years and that no fewer than 6,500 young people are infected by the virus each day and a striking 76 per cent of young people (aged 15 to 24 years old) living with HIV are female.
It is learnt that there are more than 1.2 billion young people (defined by the United Nations as between 15 and 24 years of age) in the world today, the largest group in history. Young people are key agents for social change, and are providing the energy, creative ideas and determination to drive innovation and reform. Volunteerism is an important, and increasingly popular, mechanism for young people to bring about positive change in society, and it is becoming more and more relevant as a mechanism to engage young people in global peace and sustainable human development. For instance, as governments, United Nations entities and civil society organizations debate and articulate the post-2015 development agenda, there is a strong call for a bottom-up process in which young people’s voices are included and youth are actively engaged in the process, and volunteering is a viable mechanism for this. Young people increasingly feel that volunteerism complements formal education in teaching the skills that are required for the job market, such as leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, planning, management, creativity, communication and negotiation. This is especially important given the current global economic downturn, where competition for jobs is increasing.
Caring and sharing to engage and improve the community welfare and development is civic engagement of our young people in this planet. The United Nations entities working on youth issues encourage policymakers, communities and youth themselves to empower young people as a valuable but under-utilized resource. Volunteerism is defined by the United Nations as “an activity undertaken out of free will, for the general public good, and where monetary reward is not the principal motivating factor.” Youth contribute over $35 billion per year in volunteer hours and are more likely than any other age group to have volunteered informally in the past years. Volunteering is associated with a 27% higher chance of employment, and the effect is especially strong for those without a high school diploma or who live in rural areas. Every year, more than 6,500 online volunteers between the ages of 18 and 30, representing 65% of all online volunteers, are mobilized.
“Getting youth civic engagement programmes moving” and “Moving youth civic engagement programmes forward” are our motto for our youth development. The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent. More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth civic engagement and its benefits to the individual and to society, including for sustainable development as well as resilience and wellbeing. The International Youth Day 2015 campaign aims at promoting civic engagement and participation of youth in politics and public life, so that young people can be empowered and bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.
Teamwork is effective and productive. Working together in a highly performance team can make a difference, success and significance. The words “Think global and Act local” and “Think big and Start small” are how we can initiate and begin our events and activities.

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