Why investing in our youth is needed for a better fu-
We need to do more to empower youth – and telcos can help, too. By: Mariam Al Hammadi, director of The Big Heart Foundation.
Here’s a question that keeps me awake some nights - what will we do with advances in business, economy and technology if we do not pay attention to harnessing the capabilities of young people who will at some point be responsible for the successful functioning of their communities and the world?
Are we doing enough to safeguard their basic rights to education, food, shelter, and other basic amenities? Are we making our best efforts to give them a real voice?
These questions present us an opportunity to think about the issues facing young people around the globe, and especially in the MENA region where the youth crisis is perhaps the most intensified.
In our minds, youth stands for dreams, innovation, and new opportunities – or simply put, the future. Yet too many of these dreams are today being thwarted. Globally, youth unemployment is three times higher than that of adults.
Children and the youth face a bigger risk when displaced; they are far more vulnerable than adults when subject to violence and exploitation, physical and psychological abuse, trafficking, or when they pulled away from schools and given arms by extremists.
In 2017, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a report according to which 57 percent refugee population comprised young children including 173,800 unaccompanied and separated child refugees.
These are some realties that Sharjah’s leadership, who has entrusted the emirate’s future with the youth, has committed itself to help changing. Our ambitions led us to create an international platform Investing in the Future: Middle East and North Africa (IIFMENA) Conference, to bring the world together once every two years to tackle a specific humanitarian and development challenge in the MENA Region.
The theme of this year's edition shed the spotlight on youth-related issues with a focus on the consequences of wars, conflicts and disasters on them. The potential of a whole generation risks being wasted as the region stokes social tensions.
Youth are agents of change. Creating large numbers of decent jobs for young people is critical for achieving overall development objectives, from poverty reduction to better health and education. Globally, 600 million jobs will be needed over the next 10 to 15 years.
When given the space and opportunity to rebuild their own communities, young people can turn their energy and creativity towards solving today’s challenges and tomorrow’s problems.
International communities will need to rally efforts to be able to execute this strategy.
It is our collective responsibility to ensure our youth does not feel abandoned, lost or cheated – it is in these times they are most vulnerable and have no choice but to seek an alternative environment not conducive to their own development or that of their community’s.
Displacement, marginalisation and lack of opportunities are all problems that humans created for themselves.
It’s time we turn these problems into longterm solutions for us, and more importantly, for our children.
Youth are agents of change.”