By Bob Aston
The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day held on August 12 each year is an opportunity to celebrate and recognize efforts of the world’s youths in enhancing global society. The day aims to promote ways to engage youths in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to the community.
This year’s theme was “Youth Civil Engagement.” The day emphasizes the role played by the involvement and inclusion of youths in building social cohesion and collective well-being. It recognized importance of youth engagement and participation in achieving sustainable human development.
The day was first designated International Youth Day by the UN General Assembly in 1999, and serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.
Raising the awareness about the importance of youth civil engagement and its benefits is important. The opportunities for youths to engage politically, economically and socially is usually very low in many countries.
|Youths reading at Ng'arua Maarifa Centre, Laikipia East|
It is important that youths be empowered in order for them to bring a full contribution to society, development, and peace. Already there has been an increase in attention, policy, and programming focus on youth civic engagement by governments and other international organizations.
According to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, young people are proving to be invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions. He noted that young people knows better the issues at stake in today’s changing world or the best way to respond.
He noted that young people have contributed fresh ideas, taken proactive measures, and mobilized through social media as has never been done before. Youths can change the world for the better and shape the future they want for themselves through the social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
From social entrepreneurs to journalists, from voluntary workers to members of community organizations, young people contribute to shaping society to lead it towards political, cultural, and economic renewal.
Youths need to be involved in civil society and public policy debates from the beginning, as this will help to ensure they become responsible leaders in the years to come.
A platform for youths to voice their opinions and create a community of individuals invested in peace and sustainable development is important. Creating more awareness about the potential posed by youths can go a long way in voicing the work done by youths.
According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), youths must be considered the drivers of change, and not only beneficiaries or targets. This involves reinforcing exchanges and cooperation between generations to ensure that young people are actually involved in developing the policies intended for them.
It is important to recognize that young people form a separate social group with specific characteristics and expectations. Governments and international organizations need to welcome true diversity among youths. Youths across the Country need to take stock of the role they have played in their various communities as responsible citizens.