Celebrating Young People on International Day of Youth – and Beyond

Young people thronged the visitor's gallery of the General Assembly during the High Level Meeting on Youth. Photo: Jessica Dimmock
  • 11 August 2011

The last 12 months, designated as the International Year of Youth, have been busy for youth activists and advocates. From the World Youth Conference last August to a High Level Meeting of the General Assembly in late July, youth issues were accorded an extra level of attention by international organizations.

Throughout the year, UNFPA’s youth programme was in high gear, supporting youth partners, working in partnership with youth organizations on a joint advocacy and communication strategy, giving young leaders an institutional voice through the Youth Advisory Panel, highlighting their leadership in the HIV response, and their role as agents for change in the Arab world.

But while the International Youth Day officially ends the year-long commemoration, the voices of young people will continue to get top priority at UNFPA, according to the Executive Director, whose support of youth engagement and participation has been a pillar of his leadership. “Youth should be able to participate in decision-making in their families, communities, and nations every day,” he said in his International Youth Day message. “The voices of youth should be heard in meetings within governments and within the United Nations. Yes, youth participation is a matter of human rights and it is also a matter of being effective at addressing the challenges that we face as humanity.”

One of the young leaders who has worked with UNFPA and youth organizations in her region echoed the idea that attention to youth issues needs to be a continuing priority:

“One year... Is it enough to implement all the ambitions and solve the problems of young people?” asks Malika Atasheva a youth leader from Kazakhstan. “This year has been intensive: so much has been said, so much has been written, and so much was done…. Hopefully, investment in youth will not be limited to one year. Hopefully this relationship of exchange and support will turn one year into a lifetime of collaboration and understanding.”

Hear more youth perspectives on the International Year of Youth at Conversations for a Better World.


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