“The hope of the world rest on young people. Peace, economic dynamism, social justice, tolerance — all this and more, today and tomorrow, depends on tapping into the power of youth,” stated Antonio Guterres, the 9th Secretary General of the United Nations.
Spanning nearly three decades since 1965, through a series of resolutions, the United Nations General Assembly has aimed at providing a set of supports for youth across the globe. So much so that it is has become entrenched in a resolution by the Security Council as recognition of the importance of young peacebuilders in collective efforts to promote global peace and positioning them as valuable partners in global peacebuilding initiatives.
This campaign has ushered in International Day of Youth throughout the globe’s collective consciousness on August 12. On display will be the 12th year for its commemoration after being initiated in 1999 around this time. Accordingly, it celebrates the roles of young women and men who are racialized and disabled to raise awareness on the challenges experienced by youth.
A specific goal from this day of observance is the promotion and facilitation of safe spaces for youth to engage in a diverse set of interests and needs, participate in decision-making processes and freely express themselves. Currently, the UN has a few initiatives on this front including both Goal 11 of the Agenda for Sustainable Development and the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY).
Goal 11 focuses on the need to provide a space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization, while the WPAY promotes the significance of leisure activities for psychological, cognitive and physical development in young people. Furthermore, as young people like myself grow more into a technologically connected world, there is a sense of purpose towards engaging deeper on political, civic and social affairs. At the same time, this desire from young people signifies the importance that safe spaces offer to allow young people in leaving their legacy onto the world.
Youthin the Greater Toronto Area alongside the rest of the globe can commemorate this event with the 2018 Youth Toolkit in their communities available on the UN website. Whether independently or through a local community organization, young people can organize events such as seminars, community clean ups or reach out to media to hold talk sessions on important issues in a safe space that can contribute to youth development.
Again, given the technological world that youth today live around, leverage the far-reaching effects of social media in spreading awareness on safe spaces for meaningful youth discussions in family, community and other social circles that a young person has access to.
Spread the word and make yourself the youth leader that is needed for a global community coming under wide ranging challenges such as declining political and civic participation and political instability and labour market challenges.
Contributed by Harrish Thirukumaran