Youth Engagement – Community of Practice
The year 2020 brought Pakistan at a crossroads between keeping pace with the sustainable development goals and targets and bringing about solutions to soaring socio-economic issues as a result of COVID-19 outbreak. What made the situation more challenging were the deep inequalities in the governance system, and a sheer lack of political and social inclusion, particularly of young people which results in their needs being misunderstood and thus, insufficiently met. With only 10 years remaining in making Agenda 2030 a reality, it is time that adolescents and youth be rightly empowered and enabled to render meaningful engagement in addressing social, economic, political, and environmental concerns, and contribute towards sustainable solutions at the local, national and global levels.
Overview of Youth Empowerment Programme, UNDP
Ensuring need-based programming, UNDP Pakistan introduced the Youth Empowerment Programme in 2018 as a strategic driving force for facilitating the agency of the youth of the country.
63 percent of Pakistanis are below the age of 30. To reduce social, economic, and political vulnerabilities, and increase the resilience of the people, it is crucial to invest in the youth of the country. Pakistan’s can harness the elusive ‘demographic dividends’ if it focuses on sustainable development of its youth bulge, and facilitates them in practicing their agency for a better future.
The Youth Empowerment Programme aims at creating pathways for youth agency, especially in the conflict-affected areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan. Through the programme, UNDP has been working in collaboration with the Government of Pakistan and key stakeholders to create opportunities for social, economic, and political well-being of young people.
To date, the Programme has engaged over 50,000 young people across various activities to train and capacitate them on various skills necessary to live a meaningful life, including some of the following:
• Engaging young people in the policy planning arena
• Capacitating youth in skills such as global citizenship, critical thinking, and civic education to promote diversity and tolerance
• Creating pathways for economic empowerment
• Providing trainings on entrepreneurship, digital skills and IT skills
• Strengthening COVID-19 response through multiple entry points such as training doctors on tele-health service provision, facilitating policy dialogue on the pandemic, and training journalists on responsible COVID-19 responses
• Engaging rural women reached to create awareness on COVID-19.
Overview of Adolescent work, UNICEF Pakistan
Pakistan has more young people than ever before. With 63 percent of the country falling in the youth bracket, 35 percent of the country is between the ages of 1 and 14, and 28 percent of the country is between the ages of 15 and 29.
However, most of this youth in not in education, employment, or training (NEET). Overlooking the immense potential that the youth have can be catastrophic for a country like Pakistan, which is already on the edge of low human development (Pakistan’s HDI is 0.557, and low human development categorization starts from 0.55).
To ensure that the country can help young people become more resilient, and more capacitated to realize their potential, UNICEF has been working on multiple fronts. UNICEF’s programming takes a grounded approach, and works with families, communities, and local government structures to ensure that programming impact is sustainable and embedded in communities.
A quick overview of key projects and programmes is as follows:
Generation Unlimited Pakistan, 2020
GenU aims at creating a multi-stakeholder eco-system to channel investment through a shared-value partnerships and increase opportunities for young people.
Adolescent Empowerment Programme, Sindh, 2017
UNICEF launched ‘Improving Adolescent Lives in South Asia,’ in Sindh circa 2017. In partnership with key stakeholders, the project focused on reduction in child marriages, a phenomenon that impacts young girls in particular.
Devising the Pakistan Adolescent Nutrition Strategy and Operational Plan, 2020
UNICEF assisted the government of Pakistan in creating a nutrition strategy that would help deal with the problem of stunting and malnutrition in Pakistan.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Services Help Adolescents Overcome Depression in Pakistan, Baluchistan, 2021
This UNICEF led project aims at supporting vulnerable families and communities affected by the pandemic with community-based first aid services and psychosocial support. In collaboration with multiple stakeholders, the project is working directly and indirectly on awareness raising, stigma prevention, and provision of ground-level services.
Messaging through media
One key programmatic intervention undertaken by UNICEF is the creation of locally accessible media that provides valuable life lessons for young children. This form of nudging children and adults towards teachings on basic life skills is a holistic way of breaking barriers and creating access to critical information.
Pakistan’s climate crisis is an amalgamation of acute depletion of water, air quality, melting glaciers, land etc. due to malpractices around resource use. As one of the top ten countries affected by climate change, the urgency to act on climate change is immediate.
Pakistan’s Green House Gas (GHG) emissions recorded . . .