“Youth have been at the front line of change around the world, standing up for human rights and human dignity, speaking out against discrimination and working for peace.”
－Ban-Ki Moon, UN Secretary General
The ICPD (International Conference on Population and Development) Global Youth Forum was held in Bali, Indonesia, from 4-6 December 2012. The purpose of the Forum was to gather youth input in the context of the upcoming review of the ICPD Programme of Action in 2014. In addition to producing recommended actions for the outcome report of the review and for the post-2015 United Nations development agenda, the forum aimed to capture the voices of young people and expand youth engagement by gathering 2,500 youth delegates worldwide online to participate in virtual forum discussions.
Youth play a crucial role in the development agenda. Of the more than 7 billion people on this planet, 43% are under the age of 25. In southern Africa, 70% of the population are youth. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that the opinions and thoughts of young people are absolutely indispensable for the success of the post-2015 agenda. The World Youth Alliance participated in and closely monitored the discussions online.
The ICPD Global Youth Forum produced the outcome document entitled Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration. There were five different approaches featured in the forum: Staying healthy, Comprehensive Education, Families, Youth Rights, Well-being and Sexuality, Sexual and reproductive health services and comprehensive sexuality education, and last but not least, the right to decent work. Many constructive recommendations were raised, such as building the capacities of young people and creating environments conducive to education and decent work, better public policy and good governance.
Nevertheless, the World Youth Alliance has strong reservations about the majority of the discussions and ideas presented during the Forum. First, WYA objects to the repeated mentions of “reproductive rights” and references to abortion in the document. Reproductive rights are not guaranteed under international law, and as stated in the ICPD Programme of Action paragraph 8.25, every country has the prerogative to determine its own laws on abortion. Second, WYA affirms that the fundamental unit of human society is the family, where men and women learn to live in genuine freedom and solidarity, and where individuals are equipped to fulfill their social obligations. However, this declaration neglects the crucial value of family. Initiatives such as comprehensive sexuality education and youth sexual rights deny the fundamental rights of parents to be involved in the education of their children.
The forum invited Indonesian Pop Star Agnes Monica who shared her own experience of dreaming big. When she was nineteen, she had received a harsh comment accusing her of being arrogant by trying to win Grammy awards. She responded to this now by stating, “Dream, believe and make it happen, it turns out that the first two steps are the most difficult part. It’s all about mind set change,” she said.
“In the following 5, 10 and 20 years, many decisions will be made by youth that will determine the path of humanity.” stated by one of the UN Officials during the Forum. This is an enormous responsibility and opportunity to pursue authentic development. We call upon every young person and individual to stand out and act now. After all, “the world not only belongs to us tomorrow, the world belongs to us today.”
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-by Jonathan T.Y.YANG , Advocacy Group of WYA