The World Youth Alliance supports the work of the Commission on Population and Development in their efforts to promote the human person as the central subject of development. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that all persons have intrinsic dignity; it is this dignity that provides the basis for all human rights. This reality should drive and order the work that is pursued here, and precipitate the question, “How can we best serve the needs of the human person?” Only with a full understanding of the human person, with his or her physical, mental, spiritual, social and emotional needs, can we pursue policies that lead to integral human development.
With this as our foundation, it is clear that authentic human development begins with investment in the human person. What does it mean to invest in the human person? This can only be accomplished within a holistic paradigm that respects the dignity and complexity of each human being. It begins by investing in the things that human beings need for fulfillment and productivity; the most basic of these are healthcare and education.
Adequate healthcare promotes a healthy population and is essential to the ability of a person to live up to their potential. Women’s access to health care is a key indicator of development, impacting both maternal and child health. High maternal and infant death rates are indicative of social and medical failure, and each death has a devastating impact on the family, the community, and economic and social development. Women should be able to live happy, flourishing lives; however maternal health policies that focus primarily on family planning do not ensure healthy pregnancies and deliveries. These are ensured through investment in skilled birth attendants, prenatal and postnatal care and provision of health education for women and families.
Education addresses the intellectual and social needs of the human person; it is one of the most important means of empowering persons with the knowledge, skills and self-confidence necessary to participate fully in the development process. Investing in the human person through education is a multi-dimensional task. It not only entails an adequate educational system with trained, uncorrupt teachers but also the elimination of barriers which prevent attendance, especially for the girl child. Investment in infrastructure, including roads and means of transportation, fosters student access. Systems should be developed to retain boys and girls in school, such as adequate record-keeping and provision of hygiene supplies for adolescent girls as they begin menstruation.
Investment in the human person fosters integral human development and thus greater economic and social flourishing. Educated, healthy persons enter the labor force at a higher level and are retained longer, leading to greater economic productivity. When persons have their basic needs met and are equipped through education, they can invest their time in intellectual, social, and cultural activities. The human person, with his or her capacity and creativity, can develop new ways of engaging the world, effecting areas of resource management, distribution and sustainability. Healthy and educated parents can raise healthy future generations, perpetuating societal and economic growth. The promotion of healthcare and education is not only critical to achieving authentic, sustainable development, but more importantly is fitting to the dignity of persons. The World Youth Alliance recognizes that human dignity and a holistic understanding of the person is the only foundation on which appropriate and effective programs and policies can be developed.