What is International Youth Day?
International Youth Day is marked every year by the United Nations in recognition that global sustainable development ought to be intergenerational and leave no individual behind. This year’s focus is on intergenerational solidarity in a battle against ageism.
Ageism: When a certain individual or group is treated differently due to their age, often amounting to discrimination and injustice.
Ageism predominantly effects the young and elderly. The young are shunned for their optimism and are told that they are far too young to understand complex real-world issues. The elderly are told that they have fallen behind the times, and that their views are outdated. This leads to both the children and the elderly being excluded from policy and decision-making processes that affect them just as much as anyone else. Their voices are silenced, and they lack the opportunity to be heard.
The UN states:
‘Ageism is an insidious and often an unaddressed issue in health, human rights and development, and has bearings on both older and younger populations around the world. In addition, ageism regularly intersects with other forms of bias (such as racism and sexism) and impacts people in ways that prevent them to reach their full potential and comprehensively contribute to their community.’ (UN, International Youth Day 2022)
In March 2021, the United Nations launched the Global Report on Ageism, which highlights that young people testify age-related barriers in almost every aspect of their life, from employment and health, to justice and political participation. If we are creating a world for future generations to enjoy and thrive in, solidarity across generations, and listening to the concerns and viewpoints of youth is crucial to its success.
Did you know that half of the global population is 30 or younger?! This is expected to rise rapidly and reach 57% by 2030. International Youth Day is all about how we, as a global society, can ensure that all generations are involved in policy and decision making. This will in turn create a world where everyone is represented, and no voices are left behind.
Why is it important to COCO?
COCO is committed to providing sustainable sources of quality education to children living in poor and marginalised communities as an opportunity for breaking the cycle of poverty. Through this education, children learn vital skills including how to read and write and are encouraged to use their voices to shape the future of COCO’s programmes, and to share their stories with our supporters. At COCO, we believe that children are our future, and that all children no matter their race, gender, ethnicity or economic circumstance deserve the opportunity to access quality education. By supporting our partners in their provision of quality education for vulnerable children, particularly within marginalised rural communities, our hope is that these children will become agents for positive change, and create brighter futures for themselves, and for their communities
But we also recognise that education does not stop at the age of 18, or within the classroom. COCO also supports vulnerable women through the provision of sustainable agriculture training which focuses on empowering local women to break the cycle of poverty within rural communities which can become trapped through a dependence on employment by large farms in competitive daily contracts which pay approximately 34p per day. Many women within the communities which are supported by COCO’s partners struggle to provide for up to 10 dependents, having been widowed and/or taking in several grandchildren following the death of their parents. By educating women on sustainable agriculture techniques including crop diversification, organic manure for fertilisation, and planting trees for water retention, this training helps to address the growing challenges associated with climate change by ensuring farming practices are sustainable and inclusive; empowering women to escape labour exploitation, generate their own income and provide for their families.
What does this mean for you?
Systemic change to the way that decisions and policies are created is required to truly gain intergenerational solidarity. Global bodies and individual countries need to take an active stance and listen to the voices of everyone they seek to represent. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a difference…
This International Youth Day we ask you to remember what it was like to feel unheard as a child. Remember your fury and frustration as those around you refused to listen. Remember all your bright, ingenious ideas that could have changed the world. You can make a positive impact by taking the time to talk to the young and older people in your life, and really listen to what they have to say. And you can support COCO to help us in creating brighter futures across the globe.