Giving Voice to the Leaders of Tomorrow, Today: International Youth Day
“For new results to be achieved, youth should be put at the center and prioritized in such discussions. They should not be seen as recipients or targets only, but as fundamental contributors and partners towards the identification of new and innovative solutions…”
– excerpt from the United Nations’ International Youth Day Concept Note
This year’s theme for International Youth Day, “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”, gives young people from diverse ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds the opportunity to join the global discussion on achieving equity and sustainability in our current food systems.
The Covid-19 pandemic continues to garner plenty of attention. However, its effect on youth in developing countries (adolescent girls and young women more so than males) is yet to be investigated in depth. This includes how the pandemic has driven more youth down into lower categories of food insecurity, often making them more vulnerable to both health risks and socioeconomic vulnerabilities, such as exploitation through the trafficking of human beings and child labor / modern slavery.
In our previous blog entry, we highlighted the benefits of listening to victims of human trafficking to empower them within the fight against modern slavery. If our societies are serious about understanding first-hand the urgent issues affecting our youth, then we ought to place more emphasis on the importance of giving young people platforms to have their voices heard. With their inherently forward-looking approach, our youth can inspire true change if given meaningful roles in addressing today’s problems. An excellent example of this type of engagement is the My Covid-19 Story storytelling campaign, in which young people around the world share their stories of overcoming this current pandemic.
At slavefreetrade®, we are learning the importance of including our youth as we strive to help organizations eradicate modern slavery. Initiatives such as the CAS Trips Hackathon remind youth and adults alike of the value in taking the time to hear what our young people have to say. Some brilliant ideas emerged from this project, including providing sustainable platforms that, with the support of established organizations, will nurture and support a space for students and young people to voice their ideas and opinions well into the future.
Youth involvement is integral to the slavefreetrade® vision of a world where all products and services are Made in Freedom™, and where modern slavery can no longer be hidden away within the intricacies of complex supply chains. 16-year-old Evie Reza is a Youth Ambassador at slavefreetrade®, working with our Youth Team to build a community of young allies ready to advance social change. The issues of hunger, refugees, climate change, and overall inequality are as visible and tangible to Evie as they are to any adult. However, for the most part, people her age have lacked the ability to voice their suggestions, or their overall disappointment with the status quo. With slavefreetrade’s Youth Program, this is changing, and days like International Youth Day, which recognize our future leaders and the contributions they can provide, are yet another way to welcome fresh ideas to the discussion.
This article was authored by Ray DeSouza, writer at slavefreetrade.