KARACHI: UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the occasion of the International Youth Day (12 August , 2022) stated: “On this important day, let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers, and work as one to achieve a more equitable, just and inclusive world for all people.
“Today, we celebrate International Youth Day and the power of partnerships across generations.
“This year’s theme — “Inter-generational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” — reminds us of a basic truth: we need people of all ages, young and old alike, to join forces to build a better world for all.
“Too often, ageism, bias and discrimination prevent this essential collaboration. When young people are shut out of the decisions being made about their lives, or when older people are denied a chance to be heard, we all lose.
“Solidarity and collaboration are more essential than ever, as our world faces a series of challenges that threaten our collective future.
“From COVID-19 to climate change, to conflicts, poverty, inequality and discrimination, we need all hands on deck to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build the better, more peaceful future we all seek.
“We need to support young people with massive investments in education and skills-building — including through next month’s Transforming Education Summit.
“We also need to support gender equality and expanded opportunities for young people to participate in civic and political life.
“It’s not enough to listen to young people — we need to integrate them into decision-making mechanisms at the local, national and international levels.
“This is at the heart of our proposal to establish a new Youth Office at the United Nations.
“And we need to ensure that older generations have access to social protection and opportunities to give back to their communities and share the decades of lived experience they have accumulated.
“On this important day, let’s join hands across generations to break down barriers, and work as one to achieve a more equitable, just and inclusive world for all people.”
The objective of International Youth Day 2022 is to amplify the message that action is needed across all generations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave no one behind. It will also raise awareness on certain barriers to intergenerational solidarity, notably ageism, which impacts young and old persons, while having detrimental effects on society as a whole.
Ageism is an insidious and often an unaddressed issue in health, human rights and development, and has bearings on both older and younger populations around the world. In addition, ageism regularly intersects with other forms of bias (such as racism and sexism) and impacts people in ways that prevent them to reach their full potential and comprehensively contribute to their community.
The Global Report on Ageism launched by the United Nations in March 2021 highlights that despite lack of research; young people continue to report age-related barriers in various spheres of their lives such as employment, political participation, health and justice.
The report also identifies inter-generational interventions as one of the three key strategies to address ageism. Inter-generational activities can also lead to a greater sense of social connectedness and strengthen intergenerational solidarity.
Solidarity across generations is key for sustainable development. As we navigate the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to recognize and address these age-related barriers to “build back better” in a manner that leverages all generations’ strengths and knowledge.
Youth Responses to COVID-19
COVID-19 affects all segments of the population, with young people playing a key role in the management of this outbreak and the recovery following the outbreak. Though much is still unknown on how the disease affects young people, governments are mandated in the World Program of Action for Youth (WPAY) to ensure their services meet the needs of young people. In these circumstances, it is important to ensure that youth are heard alongside other community and patient voices in the rollout of health and non-health interventions in response to COVID-19.
Building up the capacity of youth to be able to make their own decisions on health and to take responsibility for health is also a key element of WPAY. In this context, health education, public health promotion, and evidence-based information are critical in combating the spread and effects of COVID-19, especially to challenge the spread of disinformation online.
The role of governments as well as youth organizations and community groups will be essential to ensure that trustworthy public health information is disseminated.
Young people themselves are also utilizing online technologies to spread public health information in engaging ways such as videos to promote effective hand washing or explain how social distancing can save lives.
Young innovators are already responding to the virus through social impact innovation. Around the world, a number of initiatives are being developed to leverage young people’s efforts to generate and deliver support to at-risk populations or populations affected by the pandemic.
Whilst most of these initiatives are on a voluntary basis (e.g. young people offering to shop for and deliver food to elders or at-risk people), they can also take the shape of social enterprises. Many youth-driven technology innovation hubs are supporting startups to develop effective solutions to address COVID-19.
For example, CcHUB (an open living lab and pre-incubation space) in Nigeria is offering to provide financial, research and design support for projects related to COVID-19.
While celebrating International youth day, we cannot forget the young people with disabilities.
Young people with disabilities are among the poorest and most marginalized of the world’s youth. Estimates suggest that there are between 180 and 220 million youth with disabilities worldwide, and nearly 80 percent of them live in developing countries. When a child is born or develops a disability, it is often seen as a tragic event by his or her family and community.
In many countries, there are certain traditional beliefs associated with the causes of disability, such as curses and contagion, which results in these children and their mothers being shunned and isolated.
Moreover, families tend not to prioritize the needs of children with disabilities, which is shown by higher levels of malnutrition, lower rates of immunization, and higher rates of infection and communicable disease among children with disabilities.
All of the issues that affect young people, such as access to education, employment, health care and social services, also affect youth with disabilities, but in a far more complex way.
Attitudes and discrimination linked to disability make it much more difficult for them to go to school, to find work or to participate in local activities.
In many communities, both rural and urban, the environment is immensely challenging with physical and communication barriers that make it hard for them to participate in social life.
There is a significant dearth of research on the prevalence and consequences of disabilities among youth. The data that does exist shows that young people with disabilities face many more challenges than their non-disabled peers.
In addition, they may also have to cope with challenges linked to gender, poverty, ethnicity or sexuality.
According to the Policy Brief: A Disability-Inclusive Response to COVID-19 (May 2020), Persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by the COVID19 outbreak.
An estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities. One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while one in every ten children is a child with a disability.
Of the one billion populations of persons with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries.
Inclusion of persons with disabilities in the COVID-19 response and recovery is a vital part of achieving the pledge to leave no one behind, and a critical test of the global commitments of the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Agenda for Humanity and the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy. It is also central to the UN’s commitment to achieve transformative and lasting change on disability inclusion.
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