“Today’s young people can help realize the sustainable development goals. Youth face many challenges, including poverty, conflicts and unemployment. But young people are not simply accepting this as their fate. They are rising up to challenge power structures… speaking out for justice and human rights … and advocating global action for people and the planet.”- Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
August 12 is International Youth Day, a day to celebrate young people’s energy, imagination and initiatives. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Youth Building Peace” and is dedicated to recognizing the role young people can play in peacebuilding, conflict prevention and resolution, as well as social cohesion, social justice and the sustaining of peace.
Since the adoption of Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security by the UN Security Council in December 2015, a greater emphasis has been placed on ways in which young women and men contribute to peacebuilding and social cohesion and on how youth can be agents of change.
Today’s youth make up ¼ of the global population. Yet in many parts of the world, young people — especially girls — don’t have access to basic education, reproductive health services and employment opportunities. These conditions are often exacerbated by, and often rooted in, conflict. By including youth in peace and security decision-making as well as ensuring access to quality education, health care and basic services, young people become drivers of long-lasting development that can bring peace and prosperity to their entire communities.
The fight against world hunger and poverty is a holistic process that needs to include emphasis on the needs of young people – across all aspects of life. The end of hunger can’t happen in the absence of peace and social cohesion. The Hunger Project values the importance of youth in the achievement of social change, and that is why we place youth leadership training, education, and participation at the centre of many of our programs.
In Bangladesh, for instance, we support greater involvement of young people in a wide range of civic activities. Our Youth Ending Hunger program trains young people and students on various social issues, mobilizing their communities for social change. In Benin, The Hunger Project implements a youth entrepreneurship incubation strategy to promote youth entrepreneurship. Find out more about what we do.
As key stakeholders in the end of poverty and hunger, empowered youth can bring about real, sustainable change.
Image Credit: Anna Zhu