By : Frayashti
Every year on the 12th of August, International Youth Day is celebrated to battle ageism. It was first celebrated in 2000 to mark the age bias the youth face, which acts as a barrier to accessing various social, legal and political benefits. Even though ageism affects the younger and the older groups, young people have continued to face barriers in employment, political participation, health and justice, according to The Global Report on Ageism by the United Nations 2021. Despite there not being a universal definition of the age of who is the ‘youth’- the united Nations defines it as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines persons up to the age of 18 as ‘children’. Moreover, this definition varies from country to country depending on the region’s institutional, political, and economic factors. However, as most countries define it as the age a person is given equal treatment under the law, this age is usually 18. There are 1.2 billion young people today, between the ages of 15 to 24 years, who make up 16 per cent of the total global population. This year International Youth Day 2022 aims to amplify the message that all generations need to take pity on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and leave non one behind.
COVID-19 Pandemic took the world by a storm. Governments and Health infrastructers globally were not equipped to deal with a pandemic of this scale. Nations were not ready to cooperate effectively. This health emergency disrupted all aspects of life for all groups in society. For the Youth, especially the vulnerable Youth, the COVID-19 health emergency poses high risks to education, employment, mental health and disposable income. With the governments transitioning from urgent crisis management to implementing recovery measures- concerns for Youth are increasing. The primary concerns for the Youth during the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are Mental health, Employment, Disposable income and Education among several other concerns.
Young people graduating during crisis have difficulty finding decent jobs and income delaying their path to financial freedom. This has only proved to be true during the COVID-19 pandemic- which will also have long-lasting economic shocks for the next generations. 35% of the Youth are employed in insecure and low paid jobs, which are at a higher risk of job and income loss. The lack of disposable income means no way to fall back on anything except directly into poverty. Access to education also is a factor in this. Access to education, especially amongst the marginal sections of the Youth, was impacted by the pandemic, the various new innovative technology used by educators, despite being highly revolutionary, was not easily accessible to several students. These barriers have put several young people at a lower skill level and higher risk of unemployment. According to OECD, every school year means losing 7 per cent to 10 per cent of lifetime income. Mental health is another primary concern raised amongst the Youth during the pandemic—the lack of information, especially amongst the refugees, marginalized races, migrants and indigenous communities
Added to all these factors, the current structure does not have an intergenerational lens while implementing these crisis response and recovery mechanisms throughout the public administration. Increasing youth participation in all stakeholders and decision-making positions is a must. The Youth have proved their capabilities from time to time. Despite the constant underestimation of the capacity of the Youth, they have played a significant role during the COVID-19 pandemic, from disseminating information to partnering with governments. Youth organizations globally participated in campaigns to inform people all over the globe about COVID-19 and provide the necessary information. This even included fact-checking, medical resources, and dealing with mental health. There are several examples of this in India as well. During the height of the pandemic, many young people formed groups to fact-check and provide on-ground resources to vulnerable communities affected the most by the pandemic. In Denmark, youth-led organizations have also collaborated with the national government in mitigating the crisis by increasing Youth participation. Global youth organizations have organized health drives, provided platforms for the concerns of their fellow Youth, informed people about government programmes and done the most when it comes to uplifting targeted vulnerable communities. The International Youth Foundation (IYF) launched the ‘Global Youth Resiliency Fund’ to financially support initiatives from the national and local Youth- aiming to protect human rights, unlock access to livelihoods, expanding access to reliable information. Despite all their efforts, the lack of support young people globally receive for their efforts and their ideas is shocking.
Young people born between 1990 and 2005 have already experienced two major global shocks within the first 15-30 years of their life – the financial crisis of 2008/09 and the COVID-19 pandemic, has affected them both by direct loss of job or education and indirectly by their family being affected. This has extremely long lasting effects access to decent employment, health and other dimensions of well-being and the opportunities ahead. Strengthening the resilience and anti-fragility of public institutions and governments against future shocks is crucial to ensure the well-being of today’s young and future generations. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, young people have been at the forefront of calls for a longer-term perspective in policy making and building more inclusive and sustainable societies, for instance, through a transition to greener economies.
For instance, the pan-European Recovery Action Plan developed by the European Students’ Union (2020) advocates for a green transition while addressing the repercussions of the crisis. The plan was developed with student-led organizations worldwide and called for a global response to the crisis in collaboration with young people. Representatives of the Y7 have requested G7 leaders to provide health equity, protect human rights and adopt a youth-sensitive approach in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis. As a lesson from the current crisis, the group calls for increased investments in mental health support, the digitalization of educational programmes, and investments in the digital skills of young people. Moreover, several youth-led organizations have analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), pointing out that youth-related commitments in the SDGs are at severe risk of not being achieved due to the crisis. Youth-led organizations have also called on their national governments to reinforce the representation of youth-related issues at the cabinet level. For example, the British Youth Council is urging their government to create a Minister for Young People to bring the voice of Youth into policymaking amidst COVID-19.
Young people can act as a “connective tissue” in public institutions, decision-making processes and public consultations to bridge short-term concerns and long-term objectives and build more fair and inclusive policy outcomes and societal resilience (OECD, 2018). Building resilience and anti-fragility of public institutions and empowering young people should therefore be pursued.
With the gradual transition of government responses from immediate crisis management to the implementation of recovery measures, several concerns are emerging, such as increasing levels of youth unemployment and the implications of rising debt for issues of intergenerational justice, as well as threats to the well-being of youth and future generations.
In conclusion the governments need to consider the importance of having an intergenerational lens while solving crisis and implementing recovery measures, all across the spectrum of public administration. A day like the International Youth day provides the much needed platform to the young people of the world who are the key stakeholders in the present world, and transforming their ideas into actionable political programmes is a must. The lack of focus on the issues faced by youth is evident form the elack of date there is about the issues concerning them. Therefore, it’s important to conduct through research and studies in identifying various factors affecting this age group. And monitoring the several factors in this group to determine effective impact assessment. The most important is the inclusion of the youth in public consultations and state institutions and any other decision making sectors. Several Youth groups already have highly effective mechanisms in place – leveraging these to the utmost for effective decision making and collaborating globally is necessary. And lastly providing the required support to the refugee groups, homeless, women in this age-group as they face discrimination for their age as well as their status.
The Youth’s response worldwide during the COVID19 Pandemic has proved the Youth to be more than capable of creating a positive public discourse. Their impact in creating effective partnerships with the governments, the private sector and various other sectors for the betterment of the significant public and the vulnerable communities has created a highly positive geopolitical discourse. Seeing the work of the young people, their lack of access to resources, owning their discourse and rights is unjustified.
Therefore a day such as International Youth Day talks about the issues of the Youth in the mainstream. While also providing them with a platform for debates, talks etc., promoting intergenerational understanding through the medium of creative methods such as concerts, exhibitions, and art shows is highly important and relevant in the present day and age.
- https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/youth-and-covid-19-response-recovery-and-resilience -c40e61c6/