Friday, 8 February 2013

Children and youth in the post-2015 framework

Willice Onyango is chairperson of the International Youth Council. End Water Poverty supported him to attend the second High Level Panel meeting in Monrovia at the end of January. Here, he blogs about his experience:

The third meeting of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons took place in Monrovia between all members of the High Level Panel and seventy CSO representatives. The meeting took the format of a "town hall" event, where CSO members together with grassroots representatives shared evidence, perspectives, and recommendations on the topic of National Building Blocks for Sustained Prosperity and its sub-themes. This served as a framing conversation, also giving critical clarity to the vision and aspirations of ordinary citizens for the future.

This meeting has happened against backdrop of several youth consultations round the world since the second High Level Panel meeting in London. Two fundamental principles that underpinned the Youth Outreach High Level Panel meeting in London were inclusion of young people who have the agency to be the banner carriers of the new agenda and innovation that brings nuanced perspectives, fresh solutions and insights to persistent national and global challenges. There have been country youth consultations, online engagement, National Dialogues, Beyond 2015 Children and Youth Working Group and online discussions on addressing inequalities faced by children and young people on worldwewant2015.org.

As noted by Prof. Gita Sen during the CSO pre-consultative forum, the post 2015 agenda should give special attention to the most vulnerable people, in particular children, the youth and adolescents. The need for an inclusive framework where social inclusion and zero discrimination are key words can’t be over-emphasised. But even focusing on vulnerabilities is crucially unfair. We need to look at people's ability more than their disability if the post 2015 framework is to make a difference. People must be considered in the light of their potential more than seeing them as a burden.

The HLP have to not only hear the voices of the voiceless but clearly articulate them in their recommendations to be presented in April to the UN Secretary General.

As the largest demographic bar none, young people  will be the difference between success and failure of any global commitments made and it is incumbent upon the HLP to gather evidence from grassroots youth to frame, articulate and deliberate on a clear vision for the future that is informed by our needs and aspirations. They should  consult with youth to articulate and agree on key pillars of economic transformation, highlighting national building blocks for sustained wealth that provide us with the capacity to function. And they should create a specific platform to  voice our  perspectives.

Children and Youths visioning of post-2015

The HLP needs to consider developing a framework that addresses structural child poverty in various contexts and enables good governance and accountability around child rights and protection. In order for children to participate in the economic transformation, the new framework must prioritize initiatives that promote quality education, health care, reproductive health, information, adequate nutrition, appropriate services for children living with disabilities and must ensure that national governments provide budgetary allocations and are held accountable for the protection of children from all forms of violation and exploitation. The post-2015 
agenda should consider access to safe water, improved sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as  basic human rights that underpin health, education and livelihoods. The problems associated with lack of access to WASH impact on virtually all aspects of human development, disproportionately affecting the life chances of young people.

Youth unemployment considerably exacerbates the danger of major structural unemployment for many years to come. Unemployment is a huge inefficiency to both young people and to international society looked at in light of costs to governments, non state actors and lost potential wages. Youth as a dispossessed constituency is a threat to sustainable economy leading to a trigger for rising crime and social malfunction. There exists massive disparity of access between young women and adolescent girls for productive resources and prosperity.

Holistic international youth policies with national focus must therefore be founded on:

- The provision of more and better education, including formal education, informal education and vocational trainings; active and dignified insertion of youth in the workplace ensuring them a good wage and jobs as part of a career path, as well as liberty, gender equality, and security; the provision of career centers, knowledge exchanging facilities among youth nationally and internationally by the establishment of youth workers union and  social dialogue to facilitate a successful matching of labour demand and supply, to ensure successful programming and to foster youth hiring.

“Without young people’s ideas we the Panel would be missing the best hope for a successful set of goals.  Bring us your ideas.” Graca Machel HLP November 2012

Post MDGS should give power to children and  youth to Become Agents of Change

The post 2015 agenda must address the causes of structural and cyclical poverty among children in various contexts; good governance and accountability around child rights and protection; and enabling children to participate in economic transformation through initiatives that promote equal education for girls and  boys, health  care, sexual health, information,adequate nutrition, and services for children including those with disabilities or HIV,and protection of children from all forms of violence and exploitation including earlyand forced marriage.


Lastly, but by no means least, the framework must   realize  the potential  of the demographic  dividend through comprehensive youth policies that include provision of more and better education, support for young people to obtain decent and well/paid jobs, access to finance and knowledge to become innovators and entrepreneurs, as well  as the  ability of all young people, especially adolescents, to obtain comprehensive sex education, and sexual and reproductive services, and to empower and resource girls to prevent teenage pregnancies and violence.

If every voice truly counts then the voice of children and youth has to be heard in the development of the next set of global goals.

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