The United Nations (UN) defines youths as people aged from 15 to 24. This age group consists of 1.2 billion people, or 18 percent of the world's population. Of this number, 700 million live in the Asia-Pacific region.
Youths and adults attend the round-table discussion at the launch of ‘International Year of Youth’ for the Asia-Pacific region at the United Nations headquarters in Bangkok. PURICH TRIVITAYAKHUN
Last month, the UN launched the "International Year of Youth" (IYY) under the theme of "Dialogue and Mutual Understanding" for the Asia-Pacific region at its headquarters in Bangkok, following the IYY global launch at the UN headquarters in New York.
The IYY started on Aug 12, and it will end on Aug 11 next year. The event aims to spread the ideas of peace, respect for human rights and harmony across diverse cultures and generations.
The framework of the IYY includes creating an awareness of the importance of youths' contributions to society to raise commitment to and investment in young people; strengthening and supporting youth-driven organisations and initiatives; promoting partnerships among governments, young people, academia, private enterprises and other sectors; and increasing intercultural understanding among youths through the promotion of youth interaction and networks across cultures.
Over 200 youths and representatives from UN agencies, the government sector and schools attended the Asian-Pacific launch, which kicked off with a round-table discussion on youths and Millennium Development Goals-related issues.
The discussion was led by 13 panellists who represented UN agencies, governments and youth organisations from countries in the region. The programme was moderated by James Chau, national Unaids (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/Aids) goodwill ambassador for China.
Members of the panel included Anupama Rao Singh, regional director of the United Nations Children's Fund; Minar Pimple, director of the UN Millennium Campaign; Benjalug Namfa, PhD, director of the Bureau of Academic Affairs and Educational Standards, Thailand's Ministry of Education; and Gwang-jo Kim, regional director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
Leaders of youth organisations who were present included Mian Liping, a member of the board of directors of Youth Coalition; Vimlendu Kumar Jha, executive director of Swechha; and Nukutau Pokura, president of Cook Islands National Youth Council.
The discussion explored areas of sex education for youngsters, gender, health, how to get young people heard, and access to information and channels of expressions for youths. Also covered were the challenges faced by young people in different parts of the region.
Ms Liping spoke on the three core issues that need to be considered in order to raise collaboration and understanding between youths and adults: promotion of youths' freedom of expression, communication channels between youths and adults, and understanding the language of young people.
The culmination of the discussion was in the form of the participants signing their names on a poster to pledge their commitment to raising mutual understanding and collaboration among young people and adults.
With the numerous activities earmarked to be held during the 12-month period, such as national and international conferences, fund- and awareness-raising campaigns to support youth-led initiatives, youth-to-youth dialogues, intercultural exchange programmes, concert and/or sport events, the IYY is yet another positive step towards narrowing the so-called perennial generation gap.
Visit http://social.un.org/youthyear/ for more information on the IYY.