As you might recall, the previous edition of this newsletter discussed the need to prepare a place for youth in the post-2015 agenda. It had followed in the footsteps of an International Roundtable focusing on this theme. We stressed the urgency and importance of ensuring that youth voices be heard and they be in the spotlight in the post-2015 development and humanitarian agenda. It would be delightful to say that a clear shift in favour of youth is being observed, but that would be too optimistic. Some encouraging steps are however taking place offering the opportunity to one of RET International’s Youth Ambassadors to speak on behalf of vulnerable young women.
Every year the UNHCR organises a week-long conference during which its NGO partners from all over the world convene in Geneva Switzerland to share experiences and improve collaboration: the UNHCR NGO Consultations. This year no less than 500 delegates gathered in Geneva for the event.
The overarching theme for the 2014 UNHCR NGO Consultations was “Women’s Leadership and Participation”, where for the first time ever a whole session was devoted to young people.
As young people are at the heart of RET International’s commitment, it was clear that participating in the event was not enough. With the help of UNHCR and partnering organisations RET International seized the opportunity to organise the venue of one of its Youth Ambassadors as speaker in the Session on Adolescents and Youth.
Her story is inspiring as the obstacles and difficulties she faced and overcame are those shared by so many young people. As the Taliban came to power in 1996 her whole family had to flee Afghanistan. She was to spend the next 11 years of her life as a refugee in Pakistan, only to come return to Afghanistan when she was 16 years old. Today, however, she holds a Bachelors Degree in Law and aspires to be part of those making her country a better place. The role education has played in her success illustrates perfectly what RET International is trying to achieve.
Having her come to Geneva as a speaker would not have been possible if we did not have a long term commitment with her. She has received a university scholarship from RET International for her Bachelors Degree and has recently been made RET Youth Ambassador. As such she was part of our delegation to the WISE Education Summit in Doha in October 2013. Such experiences allowed her to be ready to speak at an event such as the UNHCR NGO Consultations this year.
Her speech was a key part of one of the most highly praised sessions of the week. Her message, clear and compelling left no one indifferent. The best is to see for yourself by watching the video on the left or through the link below.
It is true that the post-2015 agenda is arriving fast and we are still concerned that youth could be left out of the picture for another decade. However, if organisations such as UNHCR are starting to seriously consider young people as a core constituency, it gives all of us at RET International more reason to have hope. RET International will always continue to advocate for youth, however, reiterates to all actors around the world that our voices, and youth voices are much louder when we, all, act together!