International Youth Day 2015
12 August 2015
Today is the International Youth Day. It is an awareness day designated by the UN General Assembly on 17 December 1999, which serves as an annual celebration to draw the world’s attention to issues pertaining to young people. It was first marked on 12 August 2000, and has been since then.
This year’s theme “Youth Civic Engagement”, in furtherance to raising awareness of the challenges and problems facing this generation of the world’s youth, focuses attention on appreciating the potential and role of young people as essential partners in change, towards a better world; on young people being included and empowered to bring their full contribution to society and our world.
Today’s young people are informed, vibrant, dynamic, full of ideas and workable solutions, and passionate about creating a better world. It is an acknowledged fact that only the participation and strategic engagement of young people can result in sustainable development. Therefore, young people should be recognised as drivers of change and not just onlookers and beneficiaries. However, often times such opportunities to engage, and impact on the system economically, socially, politically, etc are very limited or non-existent.
We posit that there can hardly be supply without demand. In light of this, we submit that young people must therefore be active citizens and rise to place a demand on the system for opportunities for inclusion; to engage and deploy their vast resourcefulness in impacting on society and the world. No one captures this thought better than the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon who says, “I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.”
Today we remember our 219 Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted on 14 April 2014, 485 days ago in their school by terrorists, and are still missing. No young person, and indeed no human being should be allowed to be subjected to such degrading, dehumanising treatment. No one should be stopped from pursuing education and their dreams. No one should be forced to stay away from family and other loved ones for no wrongdoing.
Whilst dedicating this year’s International Youth Day to these global icons, our Chibok girls, we call on all people of good conscience (especially young people) to do whatever they can to call the world’s attention to these youth who for 485 days have been crying to be rescued, that they are never to be forgotten. The world must rally to #BringBackOurGirls.
For and in behalf of
Hadiza Bala Usman