Today’s youth population is about 1.2 billion. Currently, it is the largest group of young people the world has ever seen. 87% of the young people are living in developing world. Youth are almost three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. And most of the youth today are “net natives” (Net natives are a generation of people who have been born with a keyboard in their hands). The situation of youth is among one of the top concern of the United Nations. A research presented at the side event of the Commission on Population and Development held on April 23th provided general indicators for youth.
Youth today are on the front lines of political and social change. From the street of the Arab world to the occupation of the Wall Street, “youth are indeed a force of transforming the existing order.” Said Patrick Guyer, Chief Statistician of Measure of America and Program Coordinator of The American Human Development Project, at the Youth Indicators: Developing Indicators for the World Programme of Action for Youth event.
In 1995, the United Nations called on all the international community to strengthen its commitment to youth people by adopting an international strategy to respond to the challenges to youth in the next millennium, the World Programme of Action for Youth. In its ten years review of the Programme, in 2005, the General Assembly requested the Secretariat and other UN agencies to establish a set of indicators related to youth, which government and other actors may use to measure the progress in implementing of the World Programme.
Patrick Guyer proposed 34 core indicators and 15 supplementary indicators, such as education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, drug abuse and juvenile crime, globalization, information and communication technology, HIV / AIDS, girls’ and young women. The indicators are useful because it is precise, timely, comprehensive and comparable within countries and regions, it can help government, NGOs and other agencies to get a general picture of the situation of the youth.
For example, Patrick Guyer and his colleagues compared the information and communication technology between developed countries and developing countries. They found that 90% of the youth in the developed countries has mobile phones against 80% in developing world. “When we are talking about internet use, there is a gap between developing world and developed world and that gap is closing,” added Gary Fowlie, Head of ITU Liaison office to the United Nations at International Telecommunication Union.
Maya Saoud, a student from Pax Romana – the International Federation of Catholic Intellectuals – found that those indicators were very useful: “I think there is a direct link between the indicators and the work of NGO’s in the field”, she said.