Twenty years ago, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth that August 12 be declared as the International Youth Day.
International Youth Day every August 12 then was designated by the United Nations in 1999 with the adoption of Resolution 54/120.
It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. Most importantly, the International Youth Day is a celebration of the role and achievements of the youth and a reminder of what more they can achieve.
It is our–the Youth’s–opportune time to send a strong message that the youth holds an eternal spring of inspiration and hope despite the escalating harassment, surveillance, and other attacks among their ranks of independent, critical, and progressive voices.
In the Philippines, through the National Youth Day Bill (HB 6456) championed by the Kabataan Party-list, decentralized celebration of the United Nations’ internationally-observed youth day in schools and communities is pushed for in order to encourage program and project initiatives highlighting efforts, experiences, struggles, developments, and victories of the young people for the common good of the people and the nation.
The youth have been at the front lines of the pursuit of civil liberties, human rights, and peace, but we are often told otherwise. We have a long history of shaping a better future. At present, the youth are working with and alongside the people at the helm of responding to the pandemic and emerging from this crisis as health professionals, researchers, relief volunteers, and key workers, but we can offer so much more given the opportunities to practice leadership. We have the right to demand, act, and organize for change. Yet we still face persecution for exercising our rights to do so by sharing our situation and raising our voices.
The youth are being silenced and vilified for speaking truth to power, and in pushing for inclusivity, transparency, and accountability. Young public servants are also targeted and sidelined for staying true to their mandate and noble cause of serving the marginalized and underrepresented.
We must strengthen our solidarity to protect press freedom advocates, peacebuilders, human rights, and environmental defenders in the conduct of their significant work. Look to the lessons of movements, commemorate milestones, honor the sacrifices of those before us as we continue to build on their victories. It is imperative to learn from history and advance the struggle for sustainable communities and just societies.
We must get organized with a sense of urgency for we cannot inherit a future that is no longer livable. Let us not allow any form of discrimination, abuse, exploitation, and impunity to be part of the pandemic response and recovery. Let us enable more young people in organizing our fellow youth and serving with the people to build back better.
There is hope!###