Development as seen by young people

Article, 05.08.2015

International Youth Day has been celebrated globally since 2000. It provides an opportunity to hear what the young men and women who benefit from and partner the SDC have to say. In Lebanon, Central America, Zimbabwe and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, young people are committed to bringing about a better, more equitable and more secure world.

Melhim, a boy
According to Melhim, the school rehabilitation project supported by the SDC has motivated lots of young Syrian refugees to go to school. © SDC

Their names are Melhim, Celeste, Thandiwe and Stefan, and they live in very different parts of the world. What do they have in common? A deeply-held faith in the future, and the fact that they have benefited from development projects funded by the SDC. International Youth Day, which has been celebrated by the United Nations since 2000, is a reminder that young people are very much the authors of their own destinies. Defined by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as any male or female aged between 10 and 24, they represent almost 25% of the global population.

With the projects which it supports, the SDC endeavours to take the needs of young people into account and to involve them in putting the programmes into effect. There is no shortage of priorities, given the need in terms of sexual and reproductive health, the right to a good quality education, and the need to ensure access to employment, or when we consider the trauma endured by young people in conflict situations.

More than 60 million adolescents around the world do not have access to secondary education. An equivalent number of young adults is unemployed. Many others eke out a living from highly insecure jobs. It is estimated that 12% of women are married before the age of 15. And whether or not there is a causal link, suicide is the primary cause of death among adolescent girls aged between 15 and 19, followed by HIV/AIDS.

Doing their bit for the welfare of others
In the face of such alarming figures, the twelve stories presented here offer a glimmer of hope. They tell in their various ways of the joy of going to school despite the war that rages in Syria, and the determination of young Bosnians to find work. In Central America and Zimbabwe, which face the risk of natural disasters and the scourge of HIV/AIDS respectively, these young people have an impressive desire to do their bit for the welfare of others and of society as a whole. Ultimately, the SDC's efforts are bearing fruit.