Celebrating International Youth Day 2015

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver

Women Deliver is no stranger to investing in youth voices which is why we’re so excited to celebrate International Youth Day (IYD) this year! Each year on 12 August, governments, policymakers, advocates, and youth celebrate the awareness day to draw attention to cultural and legal issues surrounding youth.  This year’s theme -  “Youth Civic Engagement”- is of critical importance as the engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable development

Half of the world’s population today is under the age of 30, mostly living in developing countries, and the choices they make now will define not just the present, but the future of our world. With the upcoming Summit to Adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), youth engagement is more significant than ever. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon put it best when he said: “The post-2015 development agenda is about building a better future. The future means youth.”

The big ask is for IYD this year is: how do we get young people to become interested in civic engagement? Successful youth engagement begins with giving adolescents meaningful opportunities to work with one another and with policymakers to impact important issues. When policymakers provide young people with the opportunities they need to gain experience and acquire new skills, they are investing in the healthy development of their countries and communities. Although it’s been proven that young people can be a catalyst for change, youth participation still remains limited in most formal political processes and public institutions. At large, young people are excluded from decision-making and policy development which in turn, creates a disconnect with political leaders.

To kick off IYD, the United Nations will host an event held at the UN Headquarters to celebrate youth engagement. The event will consist of two interactive panels to showcase inspiring ways in which young people engage in civic, political, and social spheres, and will explore the issue of youth civic engagement as an enabler for an enhanced and inclusive participation in decision-making and public life. If you can’t make it to the event, there’s no need to worry.  Conversations will be happening on- and offline, with independently organized events in New York, and live Twitter chats. To see if there are any events near you, be sure to check out the IYD activities map. If you don’t see an event near you, you can always organize and host your own event with this toolkit.

Lend your voice to the International Youth Day conversation online and help ensure that the world pays attention to the role played by the involvement and inclusion of young people. Be sure to follow #YouthDay, #UN4Youth, and #UNDP4Youth on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for live conversations and to add your thoughts. Let’s raise our voices even louder on IYD: When you invest in young people, everybody wins!

Flickr Photo via: University of South Carolina 

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