Youth! Challenges and Way Forward

United Nations (UN) defines youth as persons falling under the age range of 15-24 years. UN reports the youth population as 1.8 billion throughout the world. Globally this definition applied to everyone falling within the age 15-24 years, but, in some countries, it is different. For example, in Pakistan, the age range for youth is considered as the people between the ages 15-35. Fortunately, Pakistan’s population is approximately made of 60 percent youth altogether. Still, the extreme bad luck is that this 60 percent is the most ignored and deprived sector in the population.

One of UN’s report states that Youth is best understood as the period of transition from childhood to adulthood. In childhood, a person is more dependent while in adulthood, a person is considered as independent, and has the right the engage in activities that are of the interest of the person.

Opportunely, in most of the developing countries, the youth has the luxury to get independence when they reach adulthood. They gain independence in taking decision for their own good self, and they are free to choose their own path of life. Either way they go, is at their disposal. Logically and technically no one should have an influence on them, but, I am sure that conservative societies’ of the well-developed countries, parents still have the influence on their decisions.

The Basic Human rights demand freedom and access to the basic rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has 30 articles on basic human rights where some basic rights such as freedom of expression, liberty, no torture, recognition, equality, privacy, freedom of movements, right to nationality, right to take part in the government of his country, are granted to all of us (in papers only).

UDHR gives the right to take part in the government of the country. But, if we take, for example the World Superpower – “United States of America”; a person is not eligible for the presidency until he is not 35 years old. This completely violates the very basic right granted by UDHR. We don’t deny the fact we can indirectly take part in our government by electing our representatives, but, there is a great difference between someone else representing the youth and the youth representing itself. How can a person understand the problems of the youth when s/he does not fall into the youth category? In such a fast-moving world, the voices of the youth should be heard directly through the youth, not through their representatives.

This lack of self-representation in the governments has given birth to many other issues. The absence of the youth in key decisions of the government has inclined decision makers and authorities to ignore the youth – an important component of the society – on which the future of a country or collectively of the world depends.

Isn’t it strange that in a country like the US; where world-class universities such as Harvard and MIT are established, but still very few lucky ones get an opportunity to study when they are young. The education system is so expensive that it hardly permits the upper class to study and pursue their careers and goals. If someone is lucky enough and has a rich dad/mom, s/he will be able to study otherwise it’s a nightmare for the majority. Some of them take student loans to study and which takes years to repay to get rid of them. Also, some of them are so unfortunate that they don’t get a good paying job, so such loans make their lives miserable.

Let’s not forget the violent behavior of the youth in many countries, as a result of being deprived of their basic rights – of which importantly is the access to education and employment. Isn’t it shocking that even the youth from well-developed countries are joining the militant and extremist groups because of they are deprived of basic human rights. Violence is increasing day by day and has not been a controlled factor within the society. Lack of employment has also made some youth homeless – which is a disaster! Forgetting excessive drug addictions and involvement of the youth in smuggling is an incurable disease that ruins the society.

Unless we believe in an inclusive society, include the youth in decision making, provide them opportunities to excel in their lives, we can’t think of a peaceful and justice world. And this will multiply further. We will face situations like the lack of literacy, skilled professional, violence (very famous throughout the world), and we will waste many important resources – which we are direly in need of to make the world a better place.

Government agencies, civil societies, politicians, and the young leaders’ role are all crucial for an efficient and productive use of this great resource called “Youth”. They can play an enormous role in making this world peaceful and a just society will prevail.