Youth throughout the world are leading change, and International Youth Day is meant to help provide them with the ability, skills, motivation, and recognition to be agents of change in their respective communities.
The purpose of International Youth Day is to draw attention to the United Nations roadmap to 2030. International Youth Day is also an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. Mr. Kofi Annan served as Secretary General of the United Nations when International Youth Day was first launched. In an August 2013 interview in Forbes Magazine, Mr. Annan stressed the importance of International Youth Day:
“When it comes to formulating innovative ideas and galvanizing action, it is clear that we, older generations, have much to learn from young people. They are not apathetic or disengaged; they are simply savvy enough to know that we are not listening to them… From creating start-ups to igniting revolutions, young people have been toppling the old structures and processes that govern our world. Just imagine what solutions might be found if young people are given the space and encouragement to participate and lead.”
Recognizing the critical role the youth play in furthering democracy worldwide, IRI is joining the international community in commemorating and celebrating International Youth Day to learn how youth from Asia to Africa, North America to Europe, Latin America to the Middle East are making democracy work around the world. Central African members of Generation Democracy, IRI’s global youth initiative, share in their own words, through the following videos, the importance of democracy, their vision for the Central African Republic’s (CAR) future, and the role the youth play in helping achieve their vision. CAR youth also address how young people work together for change.
Bako Mamadou and Riva Rodegle Panga (respectively Christian and Muslim youth leaders) sent a video from Bouar. Rodegle Panga defines democracy “as the power of the people, for the people, by the people.” Mr. Mamadou states that democracy “is the power of people and the ability of being free and transparent.”
Singa José Paul Bonfrère (a Generation Democracy member from Bangui, CAR) defines “democracy as being the expression of the majority, with sovereign power, based on good governance.” To distinguish himself in his community, he believes that youth must take a major role in peaceful engagements. He also views youth as the most important agents of change in a democracy.
Sandrine Salamate (Generation Democracy member from Bangui, CAR) defines “democracy as a political process, in which power belongs to constituents and addresses the importance of being positive and open to change.” She also mentions youth as agents of change “as the youth is best placed to address the mistakes from past generations.”
Ms. Lobiang Diane Kay (Generation Democracy member from Bangui, CAR) addresses the role youth should play in mitigating conflict through reconciliation in order to better rebuild CAR in the post-conflict period “as future belongs to the youth, who should ban hatred and destruction to build their country”Top