The setting up by the UN of a day to focus on youth affairs confirms the importance of this segment of the population. The International Youth Day, marked on August 12, is a special recognition of the place of young people in their families, communities, country and the world.
Kenya’s youth face serious challenges as they ready themselves for the future. It is significant that this year, the day has been commemorated with a week-long celebration.
With the people aged 15 to 24 accounting for 16 per cent of the global population, it would be foolhardy not to pay adequate attention to matters that directly affect them. Kenya’s 50 million people include 13 million adolescents. The number of people aged 10 to 19 has tremendously increased in the last decade.
As the world’s attention is on the climate change threat, it is hardly surprising that the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World”. Green skills are defined as the “knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society”.
Says UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “Humanity depends on the boundless energy, ideas and contributions of youth. Let’s support and stand with young people in shaping a just and sustainable world, for people and the planet.”
However, while half of the world’s population is under 30, they have little say over decisions that will shape their future. They should be heard.
This day, which dates back to 1965, when the General Assembly started focusing on youth empowerment, highlights the challenges faced across the world, including poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. It explains the need for decisive action to safeguard the future.
There are many international days that highlight problems and seek solutions. The youth day provides a good opportunity to enhance awareness on tackling challenges and harvesting the great potential for progress.