August 12th marked International Youth Day! Observed globally, International Youth Day recognises the efforts of young people around the world striving to make positive changes in their community.
MTV Staying Alive’s youth-led initiatives are truly paving the way to provide HIV and sexual health education at a grass-root level! We commend all of their work and to celebrate, we asked our grantees one question:
What is one of the biggest challenges young people face in 2017 and what do you think the world can do to change this?
Anitha Maswe, 21, Tanzania ( Youth for New beginnings)
Young people who come from poor families lack access to education and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education. Because of this they aren’t aware of their sexual and reproductive health rights. They also lack knowledge about their access to sexual and reproductive health services, including government health care facilities. International bodies, multilateral and bilateral organizations should assist governments in the poorest countries to provide free basic education for all and with an emphasis on youth as a primary target.
Olerato Keegope, 24, Botswana (Young 1ove)
One of the greatest challenges faced by youth in 2017 is social exclusion. There are various processes that prevent young people from accessing the rights, opportunities and resources that should be available to everybody. . The problem is when this exclusion is enforced by structures that are intended to protect and advance the youth such as: laws, public policies, institutional practices and various decision-making platforms. In a world where the majority of the population is made up of young people, we would like youth voices to be amplified and implemented in decision making processes that affect all people. There is a lot to learn from those who walked before us, but it is not possible to plan for us, without us.
Steve Kamphinda, 25, Malawi (Foundation for Actions Against AIDS)
The biggest challenge that young people are facing is a lack of employment opportunities. Young people are considered to lack skills, knowledge and experience needed for jobs, so older people are commonly selected for the job, instead of training a younger person. The lack of employment opportunities can expose them to different life risking behaviours like indulging in unprotected sex and drug and substance abuse which puts them at a higher risk of contracting HIV, teen pregnancies and early marriage. The world needs to empower the youth with resources, education, information and entrepreneurial skills so that they can be self-reliant.
Ruth Nabembezi, 22, Uganda (Ask Without Shame)
The biggest problem young people in Uganda face is unemployment. This is caused by a poor education system and low self-esteem. The system creates more job seekers than job creators. Even though the government is trying to improve the curriculum, we need more advocacy towards including practical skills into the education system. Having been able to go through Social Innovation Academy I was able to think outside the box and I started my organisation, Ask Without Shame(AWS) which empowers youth to get access to accurate information regarding sexuality at their fingertip any time via mobile rather than relying on stereotypes. If more innovation academies and organisations like AWS are put in place, young people can express themselves freely which can reduced unemployment, low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.