Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for International Youth Day 2017

In Focus: International Youth Day

Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia. Photo: World Bank/Charlotte Kesl
Students in a technical education program supported by the World Bank in Antioquia, Colombia. Photo: World Bank/Charlotte Kesl

Top stories | Publications | In numbers | Join the conversation

 

The global youth population—1.8 billion strong—represents boundless possibilities and talent to build a peaceful and sustainable world. The theme for International Youth Day, 12 August, 2017, focuses specifically on "Youth Building Peace".

Peace and stability has to be built with youth

In her statement for International Youth Day, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka states "Peace and stability cannot be built without young women and men, and it cannot be built for them—it has to be built with them". Read more»

Young women and girls have a diverse range of roles and experiences during and after conflict. They are combatants, collaborators, mediators and peacebuilders, as well as victims and casualties of war, facing additional layers of violence and discrimination because of their age and gender. Their leadership and perspectives are indispensable for stopping conflicts and healing communities.

The 2015 Global Study on the Implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1325 strongly recommended increased involvement of young people in women, peace and security issues at the national, regional and global levels. Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 16, which promotes peace, justice and strong institutions, also requires full engagement of young people, and young women, in particular.

The promise of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to “leave no one behind” demands that we include young women at the centre of our interventions to build peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies.

Learn more about UN Women’s overall work with youth spanning issues such as ending violence against womenleadershipentrepreneurship and more.

Below, a glimpse into youth efforts on this year’s theme of “Youth Building Peace”.

Top stories

Diana Ruslan Kyzy, a peer educator. Photo: UN Women Kyrgyzstan/Gerald Gunther

In Kyrgyzstan, youth are at the forefront of building peaceful communities

What does engaging youth to build peaceful communities look like? In rural Kyrgyzstan, a UN Women programme has empowered 15,000 young people to take action to prevent violence, promote gender equality and build tolerance of diversity in their communities. Through initiatives such as “My Safe and Peaceful School” and “My Prosperous Farm”, youth have also gained life and livelihood skills.

 

Saba Ismail. Photo: Angela Catlin

From where I stand: “Peace is not an overnight miracle. Everyone needs to contribute to build peace”

Saba Ismail started working on peacebuilding in Pakistan when she was 15 years old. Despite the challenges she faces, she hopes to see diversities celebrated and everyone contributing to peace.

Sophia Pierre-Antoine. Photo: UN Women

From where I stand: “A big part of being a feminist is to make sure that young women know that they have rights”

Sophia Pierre-Antoine lived through many coup d'état in Haiti and watched the rising violence against women and girls all around her. Her feminism led her on a path to work with young girls to break the cycle of violence.

Francesca De Antoni, 31, is a UN Volunteer and a Programme Coordinator based in UN Women’s office in Mali for a project supported by the Peace Building Fund. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

From where I stand: “When it comes to peace, men are still the main players in the formal talks”

Francesca De Antoni, a UN Volunteer and a Programme Coordinator based in UN Women’s office in Mali, talks about the importance of women’s role in mediation and peacebuilding in communities.

 

A mixed-national camp in Jordan brings together Jordanian and Syrian refugee girls. Photo: UN Women/Chris Herwig

Football camps in Jordan plant seeds of friendship and cohesion

For Syrian refugees in Jordan, integration into the Jordanian society is fraught with challenges. Mistrust and rumors taint how each group perceives the other. A project by UN Women organized football camps for adolescent girls, where Jordanian and Syrian girls built friendships and social cohesion.



 

Publications

Youth leap into gender equality

Youth LEAP into gender equality
UN Women’s youth and gender equality strategy seeks to empower young women and young men as partners in achieving gender equality.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for Youth

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for Youth
This resource explains CEDAW’s impact in advancing gender equality and human rights for women and girls and summarizes the articles of CEDAW.

 

In numbers

Every minute a young woman is newly  infected with HIV
A young woman with a university education is two times more likely to be employed than one with less education

 

Join the conversation

Join the conversation by following #YouthDay, #Youth4Peace and @UN_Women on Twitter. Tune in for a Facebook Live broadcast of our event on “Peacebuilding for and by Young Women,” 11 August at 2.30 pm EST.

A social media package with sample messages in English, Spanish and French for sharing across platforms is available here.

 

International Youth Day

Statement: Peace and stability has to be built with youth

Statement by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for International Youth Day 2017

Date: Wednesday, August 9, 2017

 

On International Youth Day, 12 August, we celebrate young people’s critical role as both drivers and beneficiaries of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This year, under the theme of “Youth Building Peace”, we focus especially on young people’s influence on preventing conflict and sustaining peace.

Despite increased recognition of youth’s role since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2250 in 2015, peace and security interventions tend to prioritize young men, and to rely on gender stereotypes: young men are perceived as potential ‘spoilers’ of peace processes, and young women as ‘victims’. Women, peace and security advocates have worked to defy and undo these stereotypes and to promote the recognition of women as powerful agents of peace in the prevention and resolution of conflict and peacebuilding processes.

In Kyrgyzstan, 15-year-old Diana Ruslan Kyzy is part of a group of young people partnering with civil society organizations to lead local peacebuilding initiatives; María Alejandra Martínez, the daughter of FARC-EP fighters in Colombia, helped found Aliarte, a network of young people which uses art and participation to prevent youth involvement in Colombia’s armed conflict; and in Haiti, 25-year-old Sophia Pierre-Antoine of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA), recently participated in the first regional consultation for Youth, Peace and Security in Panama City, which brought together 63 youth leaders to discuss issues that impact youth and to advance their role in building a peaceful world. They are just a few of the many young women and girls around the world working to create and sustain peace in their communities.

Their stories illustrate the complex reality of adolescent girls’ and young women’s roles in conflict and post-conflict contexts. As UN Security Council resolution 1325 and its subsequent resolutions highlight, women—including young women—play diverse roles in peace and security contexts. They manage multiple layers of disadvantage and violence stemming from patriarchal norms and rigid cultural and traditional mores.

Adolescent girls and young women face double discrimination that stems from both their gender and their age. As a result, they can be overlooked in peace and security efforts; they do not fit into many male-dominated youth-focused peacebuilding and prevention programmes, and are too young for many women-targeted peacebuilding interventions.

But this does not mean that they are not significant and active agents of peace.

In recent years, we have worked to strengthen young women’s participation in policy discussions, consultations and regional or country-level programmes. We recognize the need for gender-sensitive and age-sensitive analysis that can be translated into responsive policy and programming so that we appropriately address the differentiated experiences and roles of young women and men, hear their voices and ensure their needs are met.

The Global Study on Women, Peace & Security (2015) highlighted that peace processes inclusive of civil society have a greater chance of success, while societies with higher gender equality markers were proven to be more stable and less at risk of conflict. The same logic of inclusive processes and agency extends to the youth, peace and security agenda.

Peace and stability cannot be built without young women and men, and it cannot be built for them—it has to be built with them.

 

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In Focus: International Youth Day

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