International Youth Day was founded by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and is marked annually on the 12th August. It’s a time to celebrate the role of young men and women around the world as well as raising awareness of the problems and challenges they face.
Are International Youth Day and World Youth Day the same?
Many people confuse International Youth Day with World Youth Day, however, they’re actually quite different occasions. World Youth Day was established in 1986 by Pope John Paul II to encourage young people to bring the love of Jesus Christ to the world. This day is celebrated annually on Palm Sunday.
World Youth Day is a Catholic tradition, whereas International Youth Day is a celebration supported by the United Nations. Despite their differences, both of these celebrations have something in common – they both recognise and acknowledge the value of young women and women around the world.
Focusing on the difficulties faced by young people globally
International Youth Day focuses on the various difficulties faced by many young people around the world. Half of all children between six and 13 don’t have basic maths or reading skills. Childhood poverty remains a huge problem globally too. International Youth Day doesn’t just recognise these issues – it also encourages people to take action and find solutions.
So, whilst it’s definitely a day to reflect on the difficulties many young men and women are facing, it’s also a time to get involved and look for ways to help them. Some people wonder how they can possibly make a difference in the lives of these boys and girls. However, when enough people get involved, a big impact can be made. When we join forces and work together, huge things can be achieved.
Educating and empowering every young person
International Youth Day recognises that young people are powerful agents of change when they’re educated and empowered to contribute to decision-making processes. However, many youngsters all around the world are missing out on the education they need and risk being left behind. Too many children aren’t able to fulfil their full potential. Many of these young people receive a poor standard of education or no education at all. Furthermore, with few good employment opportunities available, they often face poverty and a constant struggle to make ends meet.
As well as lacking a decent standard of education and employment opportunities, these young men and women also battle to access fundamental sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing information, tools, and services. This can lead them to facing disease, early or unwanted pregnancies, poverty, and many other challenges. International Youth Day recognises and supports the rights of these young people, striving to create better access to the information and services they need to make the right decisions.
How can I celebrate International Youth Day?
International Youth Day is commemorated in many different ways around the world. Concerts, cultural events, workshops, educational classes, and employment conferences are held in recognition of young men and women globally. If you want to be part of the celebrations and do something to help those youngsters who are less fortunate, why not organise your own event or activity? You can hold an event in your school, workplace, youth club, or elsewhere in your community. This will give local people an opportunity to mark this important day. In this current climate of local lockdowns and social distancing, many in-person events may not be possible this year. As a result, virtual events are taking place to allow people to celebrate together online.
Why International Youth Day is more important than ever before
With Covid19 taking its toll around the world, marking International Youth Day is more important than ever. The world’s schools have been forced to shut their doors, impacting children’s right to education. Notably, it’s been poor children who have been affected most, with those from low-income families less likely to be to access virtual learning.
What’s more, the pandemic has sparked an economic recession that will send more than 117 million children around the world under the poverty line. This is likely to result in rising hunger. More young people are expected to experience domestic violence too. Some will be subject to child marriage or forced to enter the labour market at a young age. The effects of Covid19 are likely to be dire for many youngsters globally. This makes International Youth Day a vital celebration that we can’t afford to ignore.
Push for positive change
Today’s generation of youth is the biggest in history, with over three billion young people aged under 30. Being half the world’s total population, a thriving young generation is vital for contributing toward a better society for all. So, why not play a part in commemorating and celebrating International Youth Day this year? When we all join together and take action to help those young people who are less fortunate than ourselves, the world as a whole will benefit and become a better place to live. On 12th August, let’s push for positive change!