International Youth Day 2015: Events held across Afghanistan with focus on youth empowerment

To mark the International Youth Day, which falls on August 12,many functions were held in different parts of the country this week.

The biggest ceremony was held at the government media and information center in Kabul, which was attended by senior Afghan government officials and foreign emissaries.

Among those present on the occasion were Ahmad Zia Massoud, President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy for reforms and good governance and former president Hamid Karzai.

The representatives from the ministry of information and culture, deputy ministry of youth affairs, and members of civil society were also in attendance.

The event also included theater performances by a group of young Afghan artists and an exhibition of handicraft items made by Afghan youth.

Similar functions were also held in the provinces of Kandahar and Nangarhar, which saw the participation of people from all walks of life

The speakers at the event stressed on the importance of youth engagement and participation to achieve sustainable growth and development.

“Afghanistan's stability and development lies in the hands of youth. We will protect the country with the power and belief of youth and we will advance with their ambition and efforts”, said Abdul Bari Jahani, the minister of information and culture.

Similar functions were also held in the provinces of Kandahar and Nangarhar, facilitated by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which saw the participation of people from all walks of life.

In Kandahar, more than 300 people participated in a panel discussion on youth-related challenges such as unemployment, illiteracy and the role of youth in peace-building.

“Young people are a strong force,” said Abdul Sami Ghairatmal, a panelist and the provincial head of media watchdog body Nai: Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan. “They are full of energy and they can bring peace to communities.”

Haji Agha Lali Dastgiri, advisor to President Ashraf Ghani and one of the panelists, paid tribute to Afghan youth and commended them for their contribution to country’s progress.

“Youth are the future of this country and our future is in safe hands,” said Mr. Dastgiri. 

In Jalalabad, more than 150 young people participated in a panel discussion focused on Afghan youth and their role in country’s development.

Basira Fidayee, a civil society activist in Jalalabad, called on the Afghan government and international community to focus on empowering young people, and urged government officials to ensure effective implementation of the Afghan National Youth Policy, a national plan that outlines a roadmap for the development of youth in the country.

This year, International Youth Day was celebrated on the theme of “youth civic engagement,” to emphasize the importance ofyouth engagement to achieve sustainable growth and development.

To encourage youth engagement and participation in society, the deputy ministry of youth affairs presented Afghanistan's first-ever ‘national youth policy’ in January this year

In his message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on young people around the world to speak out, and urged leaders to listen.

“As the world changes with unprecedented speed, young people are proving to be invaluable partners who can advance meaningful solutions,” he said. “Let us all support young people in creating a future where our planet is protected and all people live in dignity.”

Earlier this week, UNFPA released a report titled ‘Investing in Youth: How to realize Afghanistan's Demographic Dividend, which said the empowerment of youth is critical to the progress and development of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, with more than 63 percent population under the age of 25, is one of the youngest countries in the world.

To encourage youth engagement and participation in society, the deputy ministry of youth affairs presented Afghanistan's first-ever ‘national youth policy’ in January this year.

It focuses on the commitment made by government to address the challenges facing youth, and build their capacity to participate in planning and decision-making processes.

The policy is supposed to address the issues of unemployment, gender inequality, lack of youth participation, abysmal healthcare, lack of education, peace and security, and environment.

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