By Robert Lalle
August 12, 2015
Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of International Youth Day, designated as such in December 1999 by the United Nations in order to draw attention to issues affecting youth around the world—from sustainability to social policy to mental health and more. This year, the UN selected “Youth Civic Engagement” as the theme, noting that “”the engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. Yet often the opportunities for youth to engage politically, economically and socially are low or non-existent.” Worldwide there will by celebrations, concerts, and webinar discussions focused on the theme.
Morocco and the United Nations Fund for the Population of Morocco have geared up for their International Youth Day festivities with support from Y-PEER, a ”network of young people from more than 700 non-profit organizations and government agencies in more than 50 countries initiated by the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA).” A key way Moroccans will connect is via the featured online webinar discussion “Youth Civic Engagement in Africa: Challenges & Expectations” led by Youth Alliance of Leadership and Development in Africa, a non-profit that operates a “networking database for those with a strong interest in Africa,” primarily at African universities.
Besides youth communicating their ideas with their peers, the organizers of International Youth Day hope also to communicate educational messages on issues ranging from health—and in particularly HIV/AIDS awareness, to gender-based violence, and civic engagement.
Incorporated into the event in Morocco is a documentary by French-Moroccaon filmmaker Zakia Tahiri called “Chabab,” which features interviews of several young Moroccans sharing their hopes and dreams of the future. The documentary will be shown across Morocco to kick start Youth Day discussions.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that “in this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever.” In Morocco, where the majority of the population is under the age of 25, one can imagine their potential for positive change.
Robert Lalle is a Research Assistant at MAC.