UN: Youth Empowered!
The 57th Commission for Social Development at the United Nations Headquarters took place from 11-21 March in New York. Highlighting the critical need for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this Commission explored the priority theme: “Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies”.
During this year’s session, our IBVM NGO Office in New York came together to present a Youth-Led Event entitled: Youth Empowered! Enabling Youth Through Social Protection: Education, Employment and Environment that was presented at UNHQ.
Organised and moderated by IBVM’s Youth Representatives – Greta Hunt and Genevieve Pinnington – with the help of other NGO Youth Representatives from within our network, this event focused on bringing young people into the conversation of social protection. Social protection is central to social equality, justice and addressing the systemic exclusion of the most disadvantaged and excluded groups within societies.
Our Event explored the barriers youth experience within the areas of education, employment, and our capability to respond to environmental challenges. Lack of effective social protection systems is detrimental to youths’ potential, and drives inequalities within societies, which is why is it essential that a universal, inclusive system that engages youth within policy processes, implementation, and coverage, exists.
The panel heard from five youth activists from around the world; Apefa Adjivon, founder and executive director for The Pearl Project, an organisation that works to empower young women and girls to reach their full potential; Devopriya Dutta, the coordinator and campaign manager at Tarumita, an organisation that works to protect and promote a healthy environment with over 250,000 youth members in India; Agostino Sella, the president and co-founder of Associazone Don Bosco 2000, an Italian non-profit organisation that provides support to adult and minor migrants in Sicily; Morgan Thobe, a Youth Engagement Fellow for UNICEF USA; and Saphira Rameshfar, a representative of Baha’I international at the United Nations working closely with youth matters.
By showcasing how youth leaders are helping to empower each other to meet the needs of those that are being left behind in current social protection schemes, the event fostered a discussion between youth, UN Agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations and related stakeholders, that not only highlighted gaps within current systems, but provided insight into what more needs to be done to ensure youth are given the basic platform needed to thrive and become recognised as agents of change.
Youth are an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, and this Event was held to emphasise that their inclusion in society, which begins with strong social protection systems, is essential in reaching the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring no one is left behind.
Words: Greta Hunt, IBVM Youth Representative