4 June 2014 - The World Conference on Youth, held in Sri Lanka last month, marked a first concrete step towards the United Nations recognising the priorities of young people as an integral part in the Post-2015 development agenda.
A total of 1,500 participants from around the world mobilised for the event. Half of them were young people, and many of them came from marginalised backgrounds.
Three young people from SOS Children’s Villages were also there to speak out for children and young people who are raised in alternative care.
The conference identified youth priorities for action in relation to the current and the future development framework. These priorities have been the result of deliberations among global youth representatives, Ministers responsible for youth policy, and civil society organisations, and they have been collected in the Colombo Declaration on Youth.
The three young people from SOS Children’s Villages speaking on behalf of their peers were: Eristjana (International Youth Delegate, Albania), Dharshika (International Youth Delegate, Sri Lanka) and Dinushika (Observer, Sri Lanka). Eristjana and Dharshika shared their experience with us immediately after the conference. Here are their impressions:
Eristjana was an International Youth Delegate from Albania to the World Conference on Youth held in May in Sri Lanka
Participating in the World Conference on Youth was important to me because I thought it was the right opportunity to raise awareness and knowledge about the situation of children and youth without parental care and what is going to happen with this group in the future.
I took part in two different workshops: Empowering Marginalised Youth, and Full Employment and Entrepreneurship. During both, I tried as much as I could to share the issues that matter for children and youth without parental care, the discrimination they face in society as a marginalised group, the lack of access to services and opportunities. By talking with some other youth delegates, I realised that there was no one else, no other organisation representing this marginalised group.
During my stay in Sri Lanka I met a lot of new friends and discussed many youth issues with them. [But] I also experienced difficulties in making the issues of people from alternative care heard. This was a big learning for me: challenges and barriers exist, but we need to be strong and find out ways to overcome them.
SOS Children's Villages provides training to support youth participation in the UN My World Survey
It was important for me to participate. As a young citizen, I want my voice to be heard in representation of those who cannot be heard. There are so many problems that the youth face today in the world, especially youth in alternative care, and they may not be brought to the light.
As a youth delegate, I took part in the sessions on Achieving Good Governance and Accountability, and Realising Peace and Ending Violence. We discussed these topics in small groups and we identified the key challenges and solutions in these areas.
A statement made by the UN Youth Representative of Sri Lanka impressed me a lot. She said that the youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but they are the leaders of today. I think it is important to have youth participation at all levels and all areas. We should do something today in order to build a better future for the generations to come.
Read SOS Children`s Villages` Proposal of Targets for the Post-2015 agenda.