Active engagement and participation of the youth in the context of SDGs

Youth society contributes to a large portion of the total population in Bangladesh. The economic, social, and cultural environment of a nation is built centering the creativity, courage, and talent of the youth because youth has indomitable courage and invincible strength.

History of this country witnessed that, the youth has repeatedly led all the movements for the welfare of the country and countrymen. In Addition, the youth of this country has proved it through sacrificing their own lives. The youth of this land tried to unmask conspiracy in every democratic movement like language movement as well as in the war of independence. The story of their great sacrifice not only inspires the people of this country but also encourage them to move forward by constantly overcoming obstacles.

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12th August is International Youth Day. The United Nations observed the first International Youth Day back in 1999. Every year International Youth Day is celebrated in many countries around the world to give young people around the world the opportunity to work, support, and express their skills in the social and political spheres. In line with the rest of the world, International Youth Day is also celebrated on 12th August in Bangladesh. The main motto of the day is to show and recognize the words, deeds, and initiatives of the youth as well as their meaningful involvement and their universality.

This year’s slogan of International Youth Day’20 is ‘Youth Engagement for Global Action’. More explicitly, how youth representation at the local, national, and global levels can be increased significantly. Due to different sorts of global crises, many peoples of the world are currently facing various challenges and threats.

There is still a lack of involvement and empowerment of the youth in almost all fields and in the different development processes. If the meaningful participation of this huge number of youths is not ensured, they will not be able to play a decisive role in the democratic process as well as the development process of the country, therefore, the country and the world will not be able to move forward in absence of cooperation from the youths. We have to create opportunities for the youth to work in all public institutions, autonomous and non-governmental organizations, to restore the confidence of the youth. In the midst of a wide range of challenges, the meaningful participation of the youth is essential to effectively address the challenges of COVID-19 and climate change. We need to ensure the representation of the youth by welcoming their initiatives through the active participation and application of their potentiality.

International Youth Day 2020 is deeply realizing and considering the involvement of youth at the local, national, and global levels. Their inadequate participation has led to an inefficient and unequal representation of youth in the society and state context. For a variety of reasons, a kind of reluctance is created among the youth to lead the society and state. As a result, they are lagging behind in expressing their full potentiality consequently frustration instills in the mind of youth society that acts as a deterrent for the development process. The moral and democratic transition of social character is disrupted.

The backwardness rate of youth in Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts is considerably high in Bangladesh. Particularly, the overall condition of girls and young women is worse. Given inaccessible hills and forests, think of getting full civic amenities is merely a dream. At the same time, there are more social prejudices and obsolete thoughts are associated with women’s lives than men. This prevents women from expressing their physical and mental identity. Still, Adolescents and young women are not aware of their bodies and health up to the desired level. Autonomy towards her own body has not yet been established. The patriarchal social system and the negative attitude towards women are the key obstacles to the progress of young women here. They are still dependent on others for their own health problems. The health centers are not completely women-friendly indeed.

As a result, in the absence of necessary health services, constant illness forces women to lag behind. As a result, she is not able to prove her talent or skill in society and the state with full individuality. In order to overcome this situation, European Union-funded Our lives, Our Health, Our Futures (OLHF) Project has been implementing in the three Hill Districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts since 2019 by involving 12,000 adolescents girls and young women in three Hill Districts through 10 local non-governmental development organizations in collaboration with Simavi Netherlands and Bangladesh Nari Progati Sangha (BNPS). It is encouraging that, under this project, efforts are being made to create a supportive environment for the prevention of violence against women as well as to increase the quality of life to deal with health problems. As a result, they will be able to acquire skills in their own health care as well as they will be aware of their right to health and the project is working towards a sustainable change through the overall empowerment of women.

We hope that, like the rest of the country, adolescents and young women in the hilly areas will be involved in the mainstream of development, and through their active participation in development plans at the local and national levels, as well as a realistic development action plan will be developed. By the public-private initiatives, adolescents and young women of the hill districts will be able to participate equally in the development of the society and the country. As a result, an equal social system will be built with the active participation of all. Where gender identity will not be a major issue, they will be treated based on their own skills and talents, it will enable them to move their beloved homeland forward to some extent.

By creating a contemporary young generation responsible for the society and environment; we believe that by 2030 it will be easier for Bangladesh to achieve the target of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Author: Sumit Banik
Public Health Activist and Trainer.
Email: [email protected]

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