By Mahek Bhardwaj
Why is the youth so intent on bringing about change? If we look at the factors that influenced them while growing up, we begin to uncover the answer. As kids, we have all dreamt of being superheroes. Watching them fight with all they’ve got on our television screens; sweating and shouting, focused on beating the bad guys, risking their lives to save others.
At that moment, we felt as invincible as the figures we were watching. They inspired us to think about helping people around us. Our books were filled with stories of teenagers doing unimaginable things to save the world. Perhaps this is why we want to bring about change. Or maybe, we saw what was happening all around the world; the crimes committed, the inaction of the people elected. Perhaps we were forced to take action. After all, it is our future that is at stake. In any case, the urge to be a part of something meaningful has always been within us.
Youth and change-making go hand in hand. Their enthusiasm, creativity, and willingness to solve problems makes them ideal for activism and spreading awareness. Not only do they genuinely care about social, environmental, and political issues, but, they also work hard to actually bring about change in these spheres. They are resourceful and organized and are not afraid to speak up about issues that may have been overlooked before.
It is the future of the youth at stake, and that is one of the many reasons they are driven to bring about change.
For instance, various student-run organizations focus on different issues and come up with their solutions, and spread awareness. One such example could be that of ‘Youth Action Hubs’. They are youth-oriented and have brought about significant awareness about SDGs all over the world. Another example is ‘Restless Development’, an exclusively youth-led organization working across 10 different countries.
The internet has played a significant role in helping the youth create awareness and finding other like-minded individuals to join their initiatives. Being much more tech-savvy than the older generations, they have mastered the use of advancing technology with the aim of spreading good by raising funds, searching for volunteers, thus giving them a plethora of opportunities that the earlier generations didn’t have.
But what makes the youth such an integral aspect of change-making? Today, there are 1.2 billion young people aged between 15 to 24 years, or in simpler terms; accounting for 16 percent of the global population. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive, and stable societies by the target date, and to avert the threats and challenges acting as obstacles including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, etc.
Youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. In particular, young people should acquire the education and skills needed to contribute to a productive economy. Thus, we need to increase youth participation in change-making in order to make use of their full potential.
There is a need for a collective and better understanding of what youth participation involves, how it can be implemented for all sections of the youth. Participation can be strengthened by including youth in the design, implementation, monitoring, reporting, and evaluation of various strategies and programs. It can also be improved through a number of approaches, such as capacity building programs. Youth-friendly information and material can be developed by young people themselves, through both traditional and inclusive technology mediums, such as the internet, SMS, etc. The content must be readily accessible to differently-abled youth.
The only way forward is to further the involvement of the youth. Their stimulating ideas, creative outreach methods, and devotion to their cause make them uniquely apt for driving change locally.