It’s the 20th celebration of the International Youth Day!
Since 2000, the world has celebrated the International Youth Day on August 12, which focuses on the age group between 15 to 24 and their place and contribution to society. The day aims to promote youth protection and development. The International Youth Day is part of the United Nations’ initiative on intergenerational relations, HIV/AIDS, girls, and young women, delinquency, the environment, employment, and education. It is a fixed-date annual celebration that recognizes the challenges the youth of today faces. Likewise, the day celebrates the many outstanding qualities of the younger age group.
A brief history of the International Youth Day
According to the United Nations, people between the ages of 15 and 24 belong to the youth group. The youth makes up about one-sixth of the world’s population. Most of them are living in developing countries, where the population tends to increase faster.
The idea for International Youth Day came from a 1991 proposal by a group of young persons during the first UN World Youth Council in Vienna, Austria. During the 1988 World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon, they passed a resolution proclaiming the International Youth Day celebration on August 12. The UN General Assembly endorsed it in 1999 under Resolution 54/120, and the celebration officially started in 2000.
What is the aim of the International Youth Day?
The celebration of the International Youth Day aims to recognize the contributions young people make in different sectors of society, such as social justice, conflict resolution, employment, and education. At the same time, it becomes the platform to discuss the problems and challenges they face.
Each year, the celebration of International Youth Day has a special theme. This year, the theme is “Youth Engagement for Global Action.” Following this theme, this year’s celebration wants to play up how young people engage at the local, national, and global arenas to enrich multilateral and national processes and institutions. The theme also aims to extract lessons on how to enhance their engagement and representation in formal institutional politics.
The remaining time to realize the 2030 Agenda is only ten years, and it seems like the goals will not be reached. Trust in public institutions is low. Internationally, the world is being polarized. There is a crisis of relevance and legitimacy in the international system of governance.
With the political and health crisis happening today, the international system must work together and implement solutions to these threats and challenges.
Involving the youth in formal political mechanisms enhances the fairness of political processes. It contributes to creating more sustainable and better policies, reduces democratic deficits, and restores people’s confidence in public institutions. The youth can help address challenges such as climate change and COVID-19 through their participation and engagement in concerted action around the world.
Youth engagement can happen in these linked functionalities:
- At the community or local level
- At the national level for the formulation of policies and laws
- At the global level
The youth of today faces several more challenges. They encounter marginalization from the decision-making process, poor working conditions, and high employment rate.
Who started the International Youth Day?
The idea for an International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by a group of young people attending the first World Youth Forum of the United Nations. They suggested the declaration of a special day exclusively for the youth. Their initial aim was to organize fundraising and promotional efforts to support the UN Youth Fund by working with the different youth associations.
Celebrating International Youth Day
Countries around the world have different ways of celebrating International Youth Day. They recognize the enormous potential young people possess to change the world and bring peace.
Typically, the celebration of the day consists of exhibitions of the achievements of young people, volunteer projects, conferences, concerts, sports events, and parades. With the restrictions on social gatherings and the implementation of social distancing, some of the events this year will be online.
In the United States, some of the previous activities include international fashion shows, roundtable discussions, and chess tournaments. As the day coincides with the summer vacation in the U.S., young people usually engage in baseball games in community parks in different cities.
The United Nations encourages young people worldwide to organize activities that will make their countries aware of their situation. Young people should actively participate in the activities of their communities.
Young people can make a difference, being tech-savvy and frequent users of different social media platforms. They can create relatable and fun messages, and post them on all available venues.
Here are some ideas:
- Contact local, community radio stations, and request free airtime to have an education radio show, and invite distinguished youth and individuals for a discussion.
- Organize a virtual meeting to discuss the contributions of young people to issues affecting different communities.
- Organize a youth forum to discuss cultural backgrounds and ideas so that young people can learn to accept other people from other cultures.
- You can use the day to organize a virtual concert. Music is universal, and young people usually love music. Invite a policymaker who supports the youth as the keynote speaker. You can invite local musicians to perform.
- Produce information about youth-related issues and post them in community centers, schools, and other places where posters are allowed.
- Gather works of young musicians, cultural personalities, and artists and highlight their works in a virtual exhibition to raise awareness on the issues that young people face.
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