What Young People Want

6 May 2011
Author: UNFPA

If he could change one thing in Macedonia, Steven, 18, would build more factories so his cohorts could find decent jobs.

Dusko, 17, says he would build more sports centres: "If you ask me, the lack of physical activity and unemployment is a big problem. Sport can help tackle many problems, such as drugs and crime," he wrote in response to the question posed on this week’s Conversations for a Better World , UNFPA's social media platform that gives young people a place to discuss important issues.

The current conversation is part of the lead up to a regional youth conference that is taking place on 9-11 May in Istanbul. It uses a simple question -- "If you could change one thing in your society, what would it be?" -- to encourage young people to share their thoughts on improving their own communities. Youth from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and other countries have responded.

Some have submitted diary blog-posts, others have made YouTube videos, and others have contributed through Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #youthchange.

UNFPA's Executive Director, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, a staunch advocate of giving priority to young people, is listening. He recently launched his own Twitter and Facebook pages as a way to engage in direct dialogue -- with young people in particular. In one of his first communiqués using these technologies, he specifically mentioned he would be attending the Istanbul Youth Conference and asked: "Any suggestion for consideration?"

The conference will gather representatives of more than 100 participants of government, non-governmental organizations and youth groups from countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. One of the key themes will be looking for ways to engage young people who face particular risks, whether due to poverty, culture, sexual orientation or other factors. "It is critical that we engage young people beyond the conference and work to amplify voices of marginalized youth," says Thea Fierens, director of the UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

"In Eastern Europe and Central Asia, many of today's youth are embracing a wide array of social media as part of their everyday lives," adds Ida Jeng of the Conversations for a Better World team. "They are leveraging the power of social media to communicate, address their problems and share dreams."

To ensure participation from young people from all walks of life and different countries, Conversations for a Better World has partnered with Y-PEER, a peer education network that  has reached out to youth networks in the region.

Population : 83 mil
Fertility rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio
Contraceptives prevalence rate
Population aged 10-24
Youth secondary school enrollment
Boys 86%
Girls 85%

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