5 August 2014

Speak up on post-2015 before it’s too late, say youth activists

Ravi Bajracharya (17), who has lived since 2007 in SOS Children’s Village Sanothimi in Nepal, is one of the young activists from SOS Children's Villages to present his views on the next global development agenda at the United Nations in New York. Photo: SOS Children's Villages Austria.


5 August 2014 - Young ambassadors from SOS Children’s Villages programmes travelled to the UN in New York to spread the word that young people need to speak up and act now to make sure their priorities make it into the post-2015 development agenda.


Presenter Nadine Dalpra (20), lived for four years at an SOS Youth Residential Community in East Tyrol. Photo: SOS Children's Villages Austria.
“Everybody has a different view, but we all need to talk,” says Nadine Dalpra (20), who lived for four years at an SOS Youth Residential Community in East Tyrol, and knows from experience the many challenges faced by young people in alternative care – even those from rich, western European countries.
 
Worldwide, both in developing and developed countries, young people continue to face hardship and inequalities for reasons including - but not limited to - exclusion from decision-making processes at the national level, poverty, lack of skills or quality education, and limited access to the labour market and/or economic opportunities.
 
The 2014 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum held at UN Headquarters in New York from 2-3 June, focused on the theme “#Youth2015: Realizing the Future They Want”. The Forum provided a platform for young people to speak out on their priorities for the post-2015 development agenda. SOS Children’s Villages Austria with the support of co-sponsors Permanent Mission of Austria to the UN, Permanent Mission of Nepal to the UN, and SOS Children’s Villages International hosted a side event entitled “The Future We Want for Us - Young People’s Vision of the Post-2015 Agenda”.
 
Nadine, representing Austria, and her peer, Ravi Bajracharya (17), who has lived since 2007 in SOS Children’s Village Sanothimi in Nepal, drew on their experiences in countries 8,000 kilometres apart to tell leaders about real global development needs of young people today.
 

In opening the event, the President of ECOSOC, Ambassador Martin Sajdik of Austria, acknowledged the fact that “children who do not grow up with their parents do not have the same chances as other kids”. UNICEF’s Chief for Adolescent Development and Participation, Judith Diers, highlighted the importance of equity and that the rights of adolescents need to be at the forefront in the post-2015 development agenda. In addressing the young people assembled, she reaffirmed the commitment of UNICEF “to listen to young people” and to “do great things” in partnership with them. The discussion was co-hosted by Ambassador Durga Bhattarai of Nepal who emphasized that “children and youth who learn to mobilise other students are great at later mobilising adults” and called for the participation of “talented youth into politics and advocacy”.
 
Nadine and Ravi spoke passionately to the packed room of delegates about their personal insights growing up in two very different countries, but facing challenges of marginalisation and exclusion. They shared their hopes and aspirations for the future and expressed concrete needs and rights which must be included in the post-2015 development agenda.
 
Ravi called on governments to invest more in the skills of young people and to increase efforts to create jobs at home so that young people do not need to go abroad to work, sometimes in dangerous circumstances, in order to financially support their families. “[Too often] young people have to leave their countries to seek employment. We need investment in job opportunities for our youth, so Nepali youth are not forced to migrate for jobs,” Ravi said.
 
Nadine called for more opportunities for participation and equality for young people so that they are not excluded, isolated and stigmatised. She called for more commitment on the part of schools, business sectors and the government. Based on her own experience, Nadine demonstrated how devastating it is when youth assistance ends completely at age 18. “Most students rely on parental support from age 18 to 24. We need to expand youth support for children without parental care beyond age 18!” Furthermore, Nadine emphasized that it is not only a matter of a financial support for young people, but also counselling and emotional support, especially for those young people who have experienced violence. Nadine concluded: “At 18, you are officially an adult, but that does not mean that you can cope alone already and are fully ready for life.”
 
Nadine and Ravi are only two young people who speak from their experience in care and call for a world where young people are heard, supported and protected against the risks of marginalisation. Many other young people like Ravi and Nadine expressed their opinion by participating in the My World Survey and told their leaders what future they want, like these young people in Uruguay did.
 
SOS Children’s Villages advocates for the voices of young people to be taken into account and reflected in the decisions of the world’s leaders on the new development agenda. Up next is the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014. Get involved, speak up and follow our efforts live on Twitter: SOS_Advocates!