Int’l Youth Day observed with rally, march
– Participants call for employment opportunities
Under the theme “Change our World”, International Youth Day (IYD) was observed in Guyana last Friday, August 12.
A Youth Rally and March began at 10:00hrs from the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport on Main Street and ended at the Carifesta Sports Complex. This was followed by an opening ceremony, cultural presentations, the launch of the United Nations seven (7) billion campaign, in addition to the release of 700 balloons to mark the launching and an open microphone.
International Youth Day represented the culmination of International Year of Youth – designated by the United Nations to comprise the 12-month period between IYD 2010 and IYD 2011.
The day’s activity was conceptualized by Mark Ross who is the National United Nations Volunteer under the United Nations Development Programme- Enhanced Public Trust Safety and Inclusion.
According to Ross, it was the first time that International Youth Day was celebrated in Guyana.
He said the activity saw the attendance of approximately seven hundred youths from most of the regions.
Ross said that the march allowed young people to interact with each other while walking and dancing to music and displaying their various banners calling for “Access to Financial Services”, “Access to Education”, “Access to health services” among others.
Youth Minister Dr Frank Anthony outlined the five thematic areas the ministry works on with young people, and explained the importance of each of them.
Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Guyana, Dr. Lystra Fletcher-Paul, also made brief remarks on the importance of youth in development here and worldwide.
Representing the youth population, Mr. Zaman Shaw explained that while many things are done to assist youth, he called on political leaders to provide employment opportunities for young people as this, he emphasised, will empower each of them.
Assistant Representative for United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Sub-Regional office for Guyana and the Caribbean, Ms. Patrice LaFleur, in launching the 7 billion campaign, explained to the gathering that the UN has forecast that by the end of 2011, the global population will be 7 billion, and with this increase comes challenges, many of which we are already seeing.
She called on leaders to help in galvanizing support for programmes that target young people, as they hold the key to the development of Guyana.
The open microphone was considered one of the best features of the day as it provided opportunities for young people in attendance to express themselves, and this they did through music, poetry, dance and drama.
The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his Youth Day message, called on the international community to “continue to work together to expand the horizons of opportunity for these young women and men and answer their legitimate demands for dignity, development and decent work. Failing to invest in our youth is a false economy. Investments in young people will pay great dividends in a better future for all”.
He concluded: “My hope is that this experience will now provide a foundation to go even further in harnessing the talents and energies of young people. To them I say: you have the opportunity to change our world. Seize it.”
On December 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed resolution 54/120, a recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth in Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998, that August 12 be declared International Youth Day.