(UN News Centre) 27 October 2014 – Rather than merely being consulted on policy matters, young people must be in the driver’s seat with all the other stakeholders from the very beginning of the process and throughout, a Youth Specialist of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stressed ahead of the Global Forum on Youth Policies, kicking off tomorrow in Baku, Azerbaijan.
In an interview with the UN News Centre, Maria Kypriotou said that regarding youth participation in political processes, the most important element is engaging young people from the very design of the process itself through implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
“It is important to work from the national to the local and then from the local to the national, top down and bottom up,” said Ms. Kypriotou, stressing the need for flexible, inclusive and gender-sensitive mechanisms that will enable youth participation at all different levels of policy.
The Global Forum on Youth Policies, which opens tomorrow in Baku and runs through 30 October, will bring together for the first time in a global conference, 700 youth policy experts including governments and parliaments, youth networks and movement, research and development communities.
“This must be the starting point for young people to realize their rights, what they can do, what they can claim and what they are responsible for,” said Kypriotou.
Outlining several ways to more effectively engage young people, Ms. Kypriotou noted that combining formal and non-formal ways of interacting through investing in information and communication technologies (ICT) will have a major impact on youth participation. More so now as the rise of social media has empowered young people to make their voices heard.
Empowering people in ministries who are designing and implementing policies is also instrumental as is investing in civic education and building the skills of young people to engage as active citizens in political processes. This can be done through the formal setting such as schools and informal systems through civil society.