The people between the age group of 15-24 years are defined as youth by the United Nations. Most of them belong to developing countries, and their number is increasing steeply every year. It was in 1991 that the idea to have an international youth day was presented by youngsters gathered in Vienna, Austria during the first session of the United Nation’s World Youth Forum. The youth forum wanted one day in a year to be dedicated to the youth for fundraising, promoting youth-based issues and support the United Nations Youth Fund along with other youth organisations.
A resolution was passed in 1998 that proclaimed August 12 as International Youth Day during the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth.
This day officially came into existence when on December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the proposal made by World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that August 12 be designated as International Youth Day. The first International Youth Day was celebrated in the year 2000.
The United Nations uses this day to focus on the issues and problems related to the youth and their contribution to the world and society. The focus is on the rights of the youth’s full access to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. It provides its complete support through promotional material, training material and ideas for events that can be organised. This is done through the subsidiary agencies of the UN and also through its website. But apart from ensuring that the youth get their rights, International Youth Day also tries to ensure the youth are not just passive beneficiaries of the development efforts but also become a force for positive social change.
Governments and other forums can utilise this day to draw attention to youth-related problems globally. On this day various concerts, programmes, workshops, meetings, cultural events and sessions between national and local government officials and youth organisations take place. This event is held the world over.
Every year a theme is set to celebrate the International Youth Day. The year it began in 2000, the major highlight was the United Nations World Youth Awards given to eight Latin American and Caribbean youth and youth-related organisations in Panama City, Panama.
Over the years many issues have been highlighted and worked on. In 2014, the theme was Youth and Mental Health. In 2015 the efforts were around Youth and Civic Engagement.
For 2016, the International Youth Day’s theme is ‘The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production’. The focus will be on how the youth can have a leading role in ensuring eradication of poverty and achieve sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production.
Young, Outgoing, United, Truthful, and Humble is the YOUTHAY
Text by Tasneem Dhinojwala