Statement delivered by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Hon. Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini at the Annual High-Level Mainstreaming Panel “A reflection on five years of the United Nations Youth Strategy (Youth 2030): Mapping a blueprint for the next steps.” Geneva, Switzerland, 27 February 2023
In 2018, the 73rd Session of the General Assembly took a bold and timely step with the launch of the UN’s first ever strategy on Youth. The Youth 2030 Strategy recognises the need to work with and for the youth of this world.
Today, the global youth population is estimated at 1.3 billion. This is the largest generation of young people in history.
Developing countries account for the largest proportion of this demographic, with more than 60% of the population on the African Continent being under the age of 25.
Today, young people are confronted with multiple and intersecting challenges which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected the youth, and reversed progress made towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
As a result, the world is experiencing unprecedented levels of unemployment, poverty, hunger, inequality, racism and discrimination.
Notwithstanding these challenges, young people are important agents of change. In the past five years, we have seen youth-led protests across all regions, fueled by rising unemployment, cost of living, poverty and inequality.
In my own country, the youth played a key role in the fight for human dignity, freedom and democracy against the pernicious apartheid government. This culminated in the June 1976 Youth Uprising. It is for this reason that South Africa’s National Youth Policy 2020-2030 which was developed in consultation with young people is, inter alia, underpinned by the principles on non-discrimination, social cohesion, diversity, gender-responsiveness and transparency.
It is therefore important that young people are included in decision-making as well as accorded equal opportunity and representation.
The pandemic has demonstrated that if we seek to build a sustainable, equitable and fair world, we need to ensure that “no one is left behind.” Let us heed the call by the Secretary-General in his Common agenda and “Listen to and work with Youth.”
My question to the panel is:
What efforts can States make to ensure that the voices of the youth are systemically integrated throughout the global system?
I thank you.
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