The Power of Youth: Transformation of the Future

By: Gvantsa Khizanishvili, World Contraception Day Ambassador

Today’s generation of young people is the largest ever! There are 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24 on our earth; this means that one out of six people in the world is a young person.  This generation of fast-growing youth, especially in lower-income regions, comes with big and specific aspirations for their future. Giving young people the opportunity to realize these aspirations and hearing young people’s needs, will determine our future.

Today, 12 August, marks International Youth Day. The theme this year is “Youth Civic Engagement.” I view youth civic engagement as an essential component of healthy youth development, enhanced democracy, and sustainable development. I would like to emphasize the importance of being inclusive of all young people in planning and facilitating youth civic engagement, by recognizing and valuing diversity and engaging youth who are usually excluded from youth development opportunities.

It is important to use International Youth Day as a space to share our stories and ideas on civic engagement activities - stressing the significance of hearing young people’s needs and investing in youth participation. Without the appropriate investments in young people now, the challenges of meeting the needs of the largest population of youth ever will increase. Yet, frequently, meaningful youth engagement in political, economic, and social realms is not a priority.

Growing up in post-war Georgia amongst poverty and inequality, I was fortunate enough to get an education, learn languages, share my knowledge with my peers, and voice youth issues with larger audiences. Many young people in my community were not given this access to basic rights and the chance to reach their potential in life. These opportunities at a young age empowered me to learn more, speak up for youth’s rights, ask what is happening, and figure out how can I make a difference. Young people are the best spokespeople for their own needs. This is why I have raised my voice for the issues I think are most important to young people in my country and around the world -education, quality health care, access to contraception, comprehensive sexual education, and participation in decision-making.

My message for International Youth Day 2015 is to ask decision makers to put young people at the center of the development agenda, invest in youth civic engagement, and give young people a space to engage politically, economically, and socially to achieve sustainable development.

After all, we are the driving force of the future that I believe can - and will - change the world.

Gvantsa is a medical doctor and human rights advocate from Tbilisi, Georgia. She graduated from Tbilisi State Medical University with a medical degree. She was awarded the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship to pursue a Master of Public Health at the University of Missouri- Columbia. She specializes in global health, promotion, and policy. Gvantsa is currently an Ambassador for the World Contraception Day Ambassadors Project.

Entry Comments

  1. Very glad you are speaking out and doing so much for World Contraception Day.  Nothing can stop you, and others will join.

    • Aug 17
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    Young people matter. They matter because an unprecedented 1.8 billion youth are alive today, and because they are the shapers and leaders of our global future. They matter because they have inherent human rights that must be fulfilled. Yet, in a world of adult concerns, young people are often overlooked. This tendency cries out for urgent correction, because it imperils youth as well as economies and societies at larg


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