Youth-led Side Event during the 57th Commission on Social Development
Along with five youth interns from other faith-based NGOs, I had the opportunity to organize a youth-led side event titled “Youth Empowered! Enabling youth through social protection: Education, Employment, Environment” during the 57th Commission on Social Development. The event, which took place at the United Nations on 29, February, 2019, explored how youth are impacted by lack of access to social protection in the areas of education and employment and how this exclusion impacts their capability to respond to environmental challenges.
The panelists included Morgan Thobe, a UNICEF youth Engagement Fellow; Saphira Rameshfar, a representative of the Baha’i International Community’s United Nations office; Devopriya Dutta, a young environmental activists and campaign manager at Tarumitra, a students’ movement to protect and promote a healthy environment; Agostino Sella, creator of the “circular migration” projection, which supports agricultural interventions to provide job opportunities to African youth in order to prevent migration due to unemployment and poverty; and Apefa Adjivon, founder of the Pearl Project, a centre that connects youth and women of color from low-income communities to job opportunities through mentorship. Devopriya, who joined the discussion via video, stressed the importance of extending youth’s access to social protection in order to enable and empower them to address environmental challenges.
Many of the panelists highlighted youth’s lack of access to decent employment opportunities. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), 77% of young workers (97 % in developing countries) are in informal employment. Youth’s high participation in informal employment is one reason their access to contributory social protection schemes, like unemployment insurance and health insurance, is limited. This in turn puts youth at a greater risk for falling into extreme poverty. Through discussions on the Pearl Project and Circular Migration Project, the event provided examples of good practices for addressing the exclusion of marginalised youth from employment opportunities. Panelists called on governments to partner with youth and implement social protection policies that address the specific needs of youth, a vital step towards enabling youth to reach their full potential and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to organize a side-event that brought youth into the conversation of social protection. I look forward to participating and contributing to the Pre-Commission on the Status of Women Youth Dialogue, which will further explore social protection as well as the implementation of public services and sustainable infrastructure that address the needs of young people.
Messages to: Marian Gardner - MIA-MGA Intern