Back in December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth and decided to dedicate a day to recognizing young people’s inclusion and key role to building and sustaining peace in our broad society. And that that, August 12 was declared International Youth Day.
Since 2015, there is growing recognition that youths can be agents of change in deterring and resolving conflicts, and ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts around the world.
International Youth Day 2018 Theme — Safe Spaces for Youth.
According to the UN, youth need safe spaces to come together and engage in diverse activities related to needs and interests. Youth also need to participate in decision-making and have opportunities to freely express themselves. These well-planned safe spaces must ensure the safety and dignity of the youth — especially those vulnerable to marginalization or violence —even as they engage in civic activities, governance issues, sports and other leisure activities in the community. Moreover, there needs to be more access to digital spaces help youth virtually interact across borders.
Safe spaces should be inclusive, diverse and assured of helping youth find respect and value in their self-worth. This is especially important in humanitarian or conflict prone settings and areas where youth from different race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community.
The impact of these safe spaces should be increased development, peace and social cohesion, as well as psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people. The hope is to also aspire a deeper level of engagement in political, civic and social matters.
Youth in Numbers
- There are 1.8 billion youth, aged 10 to 24, living today, which represents the largest youth generation in human history.
- 1 in 10 of children live in conflict zones.
- Around the world, 200 million youth are illiterate.
- More than 40 percent of new HIV/AIDS infections occur among youth.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
- At least 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental disorders or problems, with neuropsychiatric disorders topping the list of disabilities. About half of these mental disorders begin before the age of 14, and they are reported across cultures.
- War and disasters have a large impact on mental health and psychosocial well-being.
- Regions in the world with the highest percentage of population under the age of 19 have the poorest level of mental health resources, and there are not enough child psychiatrists in most low- and middle-income countries.
- 70% of children and adolescents with mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
- 24 million of youth are out of school.
- In developing, low-income countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10%.
- Children living in a rural environment are twice as likely to leave school early or not attend college than urban children.