Find in Blog
The Youth Voice is Getting Louder
With nearly half of the world’s population under the age of 25, it is critical that the new global agenda on development places young people’s voices and needs at its center. The Millennium Development Goals, despite their many clear benefits for development, rendered further invisible the needs of youth and adolescents by failing to prioritize their rights. As we move towards a universal framework anchored in the principles of equality and sustainable development, young people are emerging to demand their place at the table.
We have been working with partners and other civil society organizations to ensure youth representation at various dialogues and events, including the recent review of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action. The Bali Global Youth Forum, in December 2012, engaged over 3,000 onsite and virtual delegates from around the world and identified their sexual and reproductive health and rights priorities, such as comprehensive sexuality education. The Bali Declaration, developed by young people, sets an ambitious agenda and demands meaningful youth participation at all levels of development. In addition, we've been working with local networks to ensure youth representatives were heard at the International Conference on Population and Development regional conferences and that youth issues were included in outcome documents from those meetings, which will be used to influence the post-2015 agenda.
If unmet need for contraception is not addressed, some 55 million unplanned births will continue to take place each year, 79,000 women will die from pregnancy, childbirth-related complications and from unsafe abortions, and girls will continue to be denied access to education and employment. In addition, unless we scale up access to antiretroviral treatment, we will fail to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The consequences for sustainability—economic, social, and environmental—are huge.
If low-income countries with large youth populations fail to invest in social and health care, and to ensure good governance and financial security, they will fail to capture the potential of a large working age population. If we fail to involve youth, particularly the most marginalized groups, in important decisions about how development takes place, health and social spending may continue to perpetuate, rather than tackle, inequality and chronic poverty.
We now stand at a crossroad where social equity, environmental protection, and development meet. The framework to come out of the current global negotiations will shape our collective future, and sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people must be at the heart of this new framework.