United Nations High-level Meeting on Youth: Occasion for World Youth Alliance to Shine

New York City, July 26, 2011) — The World Youth Alliance (WYA) brought thirty young people from almost twenty countries to the United Nations High-level Meeting on Youth, held July 25 -26, 2011 at UN Headquarters in New York City. Many of the WYA members were accepted onto the official delegations of their countries. This made for a heightened experience for many of the WYA delegates, especially those who found themselves sitting on the floor of the UN General Assembly amongst heads of state from all over the world. For Bernadette, from France, one short sentence summed it up: “This is awesome.” WYA welcomed the opportunity to present the voices of young people by promoting dignity, the family and authentic development.

WYA co-sponsored a side event at the meeting on July 26th called “Our Voices, Our Aspirations: A Youth Dialogue on Sustainable Development” with the Bahá’í International Community and attended by over forty participants. Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, a WYA member from Nigeria, delivered a speech at the event, outlining his vision of sustainable youth development. Iyinoluwa pointed to the “context” in which sustainable development takes place, which is always “families and communities” first, and not governments. He acknowledged that the outcome document of the HLMY contains a paragraph which states that the “primary responsibility for youth development lies with the States,” and that this is contrary to what we know about authentic development. The primary responsibility for youth development falls to families and communities.  WYA thanks and commends UN delegations that included its recommendations and the language of families in their addresses to the General Assembly on Tuesday July 26th.

For World Youth Alliance, the HLMY presented an opportunity to highlight the best of what young people have to offer at the international institutions. WYA delegates drafted newsletters, statements on the final outcome document and contributed to the “youth voice” at the UN, a voice which is too often oriented around guaranteeing “sexual and reproductive rights” rather than focusing on the real needs of young people in terms of development, like nutrition, education, basic healthcare, sanitation, decent work and a vibrant culture.

Recognizing the importance of the arts and culture in the lives of young people, WYA also hosted an evening event called “Art Speaks: A Gateway to Understanding the Human Person”, which highlighted young musicians, actors, filmmakers, and sculptors. 130 WYA members, friends and delegates joined us at WYA Headquarters to enjoy the evening of performances and visual art exhibits.

For more information:
Rebecca Marchinda, WYA Director of Advocacy
Email: becky@wya.net Phone: +1 212 585 0757 Website: www.wya.net 

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