International Youth Day

International Youth Day

“Youth is wasted on the young,” or so it is said.

Seriously though, young people in Canada and abroad face a future that is filled with challenges and opportunities. The United Nations’ (UN) International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12 each year to recognize efforts of the world’s youth in enhancing global society. It also aims to promote ways to engage them in becoming more actively involved in making positive contributions to their communities.

The UN defines the worlds’ youth as the age group between 15 and 24 years old, making up one-sixth of the human population. Many of these young men and women live in developing countries and their numbers are expected to rise steeply. The idea for International Youth Day was proposed in 1991 by young people who were gathered in Vienna, Austria, for the first session of the UN’s World Youth Forum. The forum recommended that an International Youth Day be declared, especially for fundraising and promotional purposes, to support the United Nations Youth Fund in partnership with youth organizations.

In 1998 a resolution proclaiming August 12 as International Youth Day was adopted during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. That recommendation was later endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999. International Youth Day was first observed in 2000. One of the year’s highlights was when eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organizations received United Nations World Youth Awards in Panama City, Panama.

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption.”

This year’s day is about achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable production and consumption.
Celebrations at the United Nations headquarters and around the world will recognize the importance of youth efforts, collaboration and participation in the implementation of the 2030 sustainable development agenda. Events to celebrate International Youth Day 2016 will take place all over the world.

Happy International Youth Day!

By: Mark Klein

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Greg Dwulit

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International Youth Day

International Youth Day (IYD) is a little different than Father’s or Mother’s Day. The purpose of Youth Day is to draw a spotlight on issues that young people face throughout the world.

This year’s theme is “Youth Civic Engagement.” Very few of our youth are involved in the civic or political activities. A small percentage volunteer for a political party, join a NGO, charitable work, or other activities. That’s why governments, the United Nations, NGOs, regional and multilateral organizations, CSOs, young leaders and researchers are trying to motivate greater numbers of people into civic activities.

Young people who are more involved in politics, NGOs, charities and elements of civic life are more likely to enjoy a better quality of life. On average they earn more money, are better educated and stronger advocates for youth issues. A society functions better with youth who are engaged and involved in their society. This is essential to achieving sustainable human development. But the opportunities for young people to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent in some places.

This needs to change. We need to raise awareness about the importance of youth engagement and how society benefits. This year’s youth day promises to get young people involved in civic life. They need to be empowered to bring a full contribution to society, development and peace.

An easy way for young Canadians to get involved in civics is to vote in the upcoming federal election, expected to take place in October this year. For more information about the youth vote in the next election, visit Election Canada’s website.

SEIU Healthcare also gives young people an opportunity to get involved with their union. The union’s EMERG committee’s goal is to transform young SEIU members into strong leaders who play an important role in politics and civic life. If you are an SEIU Healthcare member between the ages of 18-35 and would like to join the EMERG committee, please call 1-877-672-7348, or email politics@seiuhealthcare.ca.

For more information about Youth Day, check out the United Nation’s website.