From social entrepreneurs to journalists, from voluntary workers to members of community organizations, from acclaimed celebrities to social health workers, young people are always seen contributing and shaping society to lead it towards political, cultural and economic renewal.
The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply.
The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising to support the United Nations Youth Fund. In December 17th1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
This day seeks to promote young people’s effective inclusive civic engagement at all levels, acknowledging them as essential partners in change and an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and problems facing them. It is also an opportunity to celebrate the creative force that young people bring to every society aiming to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities and celebrating their potentials as partners in today’s global society.
The theme of International Youth Day, 12 August 2015, is “Youth Civic Engagement.” The engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent. Statistics show that young people are three times more likely to be employed than adults, credits to AGILITY, yet another statistics show that almost 73 million youth still look for employment. The UN Population Fund estimates that the global population of young people between the ages of 10-24 has hit 1.8 billion constituting 18 percent of the global population.
Nigeria‘s population is estimated at over 150 million people which the youth constitutes 70 percent of its population yet the government keep making empty political promises to the Nigeria growing youths without fulfillment. Since Nigeria gained independence in 1960, only few privileged youths had opportunity to gain political power at the local, state and federal levels. Some so-called Nigerian youth claim to represent the interest of the youth at the federal government are above 50 years, this sadly indicates the gloomy future of Nigerian youth.
Today our youths are nobodies, Boko Haram insurgents continually increase daily in the Northern region many thanks to the political leaders in this region who continually fail to provide for its youth who finally succumb to callous activities. Gone were the days when youth see educational pursuits as the only way to success but the reverse is the case today that the more educated as a youth, the higher the rate of joblessness. It is rightly quoted that an “idle mind is the devil’s workshop”.
Gladly, in September of this year, world leaders will meet in New York to announce a new set of global goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, which will hopefully shape the future of people, young people and planet by ending poverty, inequality and climate change.
Action/2015, a global movement which desires change in all spheres will continue to mobilize the public worldwide and remind leaders that the world is watching and calling for ambitious goals, the youth most inclusive for they are the tomorrow that must be invested in today.
We are young, we are inexperienced, some may call us naïve, but get there we will someday, Rome was not built in a day. We dream of a better world, a world where there is absence of inequality, where parents, the society and the government believe and invest in us knowing fully well and being assured that there will be multiple yields and that massive greatness lies in us.“Young people must be considered the drivers of change, and not only beneficiaries or targets” Irina Bokova UNESCO Director-General