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International Youth Day

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The United Nations General Assembly (UNSGA) endorsed August 12th as International Youth Day in 1999. This year’s theme is “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”. Today as we commemorate International Youth Day, we would like to acknowledge and amplify the importance of youth. The global youth population is estimated to be 1.12 billion. By 2030, this figure is expected to grow to nearly 1.3 billion. Youth has the potential to play a significant role in the country’s socio-economic and political development.  They can be a creative force, a dynamic source of innovations, and contributor to important changes in political systems, power-sharing dynamics and economic opportunities. However, youth also faces several barriers, which hinder their active participation and engagement in the various socio-economic, political and cultural activities. Among the various challenges, inequality, poverty and unemployment are at the forefront, particularly in developing countries. Failure to engage the youth in multiple socio-economic engagements has its own effect on the development of the country.

Ethiopia is a country of young people in which about 80% of its population is under the age of 35 years, meaning that young people are our most important and powerful agents of economic development. However, it should be noted that policy makers and international development agencies must make concerted efforts to enhance young people’s participation in policy making, access to quality education and health services, and training, and employment in order to make today’s youth the motor of tomorrow’s economic takeoff. In the face of no action, the country risks to fall in a poverty trap, which could in turn breed insecurity and instability.