Embracing Youth as Partners

12 August 2011
Author: UNFPA

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Today on International Youth Day, and every day, youth should be able to participate in decision-making in their families, communities, and nations.

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.

In our world today there are 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24. They constitute more than a quarter of the world’s population and nearly 90 per cent of them living in developing nations.

When societies embrace youth as partners, we improve our chances of finding solutions to our most pressing problems.

Today too many young people are deprived of opportunities, peace and stability. Too many adolescent girls and young women face gender discrimination and violence. And poor sexual and reproductive health is a leading cause of death for adolescent girls in developing countries.

As never before, youth are bombarded with sexually explicit images. There is a growing need for sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services that meet the needs of young people.

My colleagues and I in UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, are committed to advancing the right to sexual and reproductive health, and advancing gender equality.

Today on International Youth Day, and every day, I call on leaders to engage, empower and listen to young people. Working together we can advance the rights, health and well-being of current and future generations.