Statement in Observance of International Youth Day
12 August 2020
The Statement was delivered by the UNFPA Country Representative, Niyi Ojuolape, on behalf of Charles Abani, UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana.
It is my pleasure to join you this morning for the official opening of what promises to be a great week of activities aimed at engaging the youth of this dear country and around the world in observance of International Youth Day.
This year, International Youth Day is being observed amidst a global pandemic, never experienced by the millions of youth around the world. This pandemic, has impacted the lives of the youth in ways they never dreamt of; lives have been lost, hopes and aspirations of young people have been dashed and to many young people, the future can be built better if they are included in the process. The excitement, energy and resourcefulness of young people ought to be tapped and utilized. We cannot let the pandemic slow us down and so that call gaze our eyes on the youth and pay more attention to their needs cannot be louder than on International Youth Day.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is why we are delighted that Ghana has tailored the international theme “Youth Global Engagement for Global Action” to ‘Youth Engagement in Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19; the need for Innovation and creativity”. This theme is particularly important and critical as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) notwithstanding the pandemic, must be achieved to ensure a world and a Ghana we want for young people and generations yet unborn.
During this pandemic, we have witnessed and continue to witness young people taking the roles of; health workers, activists, innovators, and social and community workers even though this pandemic continues to upend them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the loss of opportunities for employment, education and access to essential services such as health including sexual and reproductive health services which are critical in the face of necessary confinements and increased sexual and gender-based violence. We have also seen that young women and girls are more vulnerable. As a result, many young people are facing infringement of their rights and choices, with their steps towards responsible adulthood compromised.
The voices and activism of young people, however continues to make a difference and in order to ensure the support from generations beyond the youth bracket, it is our duty to share information, clarify misinformation, and equip them to take action to continue their progress towards achieving the SDGs within the next decade. To achieve this, there needs to be containment of the spread of the virus, which continues to have devastating effects on SDGs. Beyond containment, we must work to build back. Building back better requires inclusivity; We must ensure that young people are prioritized in order to have access to education, tools, and services necessary for them to reach their full potential. We must validate the leadership of young people and uphold their human rights to reach their fullest potentials for the benefit of the country’s development.
The UN in Ghana will continue to invest in young people’s inclusion by listening to the voices of young people and support their meaningful participation in decision making. We will also go beyond that by investing in young people’s participation, organizations and initiatives, thereby safeguarding their ability to lead in achieving the SDGs which brings this year’s International Youth Day theme to life.
Through this pandemic we have learned that young people are resilient, they are resourceful and given the support, they can be meaningfully engaged.
I would like to urge all stakeholders to continue the critical investment in young people. Together we can rise to the challenges before us, working with young people to build a more inclusive, sustainable future for the good of Ghana and beyond.
At this moment, please permit me to present to UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’ statement in observance of the Day:
The theme of this year’s International Youth Day – “Youth Engagement for Global Action” -- spotlights the ways in which the voices and activism of young people are making a difference and moving our world closer to the values and vision of the United Nations Charter.
This year’s Youth Day occurs as the lives and aspirations of young people continue to be upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some have lost their lives, and many have seen family members and other loved ones perish.
The vulnerabilities of young refugees, displaced persons, young women and girls and others caught up in conflict or disaster have grown more acute.
A generation’s very formation has been jeopardized, their steps towards adulthood, identity and self-sufficiency thrown off course.
Some have taken on care burdens or are suffering from increased risks of hunger, violence in the home or the prospect of never being able to resume their education.
But this generation is also resilient, resourceful and engaged.
They are the young people who have risen up to demand climate action.
They are mobilizing for racial justice and gender equality and are the champions of a more sustainable world.
They are peacebuilders promoting social cohesion at a time of social distancing, advancing an end to violence globally and advocating harmony at a time of rising hatred.
Many are young women who have been on the frontlines in mobilizing for justice and climate action — while also serving on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.
Realizing the promise of this generation means investing far more in young people’s inclusion, participation, organizations and initiatives.
I call on leaders and adults everywhere to do everything possible to enable the world’s youth to enjoy lives of safety, dignity and opportunity and contribute to the fullest of their great potential.”
I wish you all a successful International Youth Day commemoration and look forward to listening to you on how we can make the world a better place.