One of the 208 NGO representatives from 153 countries which met to analyze the current situation facing young people regarding the Millennium Development Goals for 2015, Girls’ Power Initiative (GPI) was a part of the World Youth Conference which was held from the 23rd to 27th August, 2010.
Thirty-six ministers and government officials from all continents, responsible for youth policies were also present to discuss thirteen important topics for the development of young people.
At the opening ceremony of the conference, the first woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, Shirin Ebadi, urged young people to appreciate liberty and if stepped on, to raise their voices in protest. She shared that the situation in Iran does not allow ideas to be freely expressed.
During the Magisterial Conference on Human Rights she explained the situation Iranian youth face every day. One of the biggest problems is the absence of freedom. For example, to have sexual relations outside of marriage is considered a crime punishable with 100 lashes.
Iranian laws are contradictory for young people. A 9-year-old girl can be tried as a 40-year-old woman, but the latter does not have the right to vote because she lacks the intellectual maturity to do so.
Women in Iran are dreadfully humiliated in that country, so it is very difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce and if she is granted a divorce she loses many of her rights while a man is allowed to have up to four women without having a divorce. If a man sees his wife in bed with another man he has the right to kill them both without being punished for this crime, she said.
The Nobel Laureate mentioned that the limitations on Iranian youth have led many of them to try to reach a European country. She cited figures from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that say “brain drain” in Iran is the highest in the world due to the lack of liberty and of jobs.
The youths were included in the framework of the conference to provide their input and give counsel to those making the decisions regarding the priorities that should be contemplated on the global agenda of youth development, as well as to hold them accountable about the promises established in the Millennium Declaration and etc.
After a long process of analysis and consultation of the needs of the young people throughout the world and with the evident delay in fulfilling the promises made previously, youth leaders gave their consensual position in a document, demanding that the governments and their various branches take every necessary action to recognize the young people as “people with rights” and guarantee their ability to fully exercise them, with a particular emphasis on the specificities within the framework of equality against their enriching diversity.
This broad document offers a list of recommendations for the governments of the world to assure the development of adequate legislative frameworks on a national and international level that will guarantee the basic rights of the young people in the areas of food, education, health, including sexual rights and reproductive health, employment and free participation, among others.
Before the ugly truth that millions of young people confront every day, they demanded that the governments pay particular attention to the marginal youth, including the young people at risk of being discriminated for reasons such as age and gender identity, sex, race or ethnicity, migration, disabilities, and beliefs, and facilitate their full participation and inclusion into society. Also, they requested greater commitment to reach the Millennium Development Goals and to recognize young people as key agents for the development of societies.
Taking advantage of the “International Year of Youth, Dialogue and Mutual Understanding” and with the apparent concern of Nations for their youth, the ensemble of the NGO’s Global Meeting asked the governments to invest at least 5 per cent of their national budget destined for defense in development programs for young people within their respective national budgets.
Furthermore, recognizing that young people can be key agents in conflict resolution, bringing together towns and promoting a culture of peace, they asked to make every possible effort to end the wars, occupations and conflicts that are unresolved in the world.
Conscious of their central role as the social subjects they are, the organizations of young people gathered in León assured that they would be permanently monitoring the activities that the governments prompt regarding youth, besides committing themselves to keep working in the principal topics that concern them such as poverty, education, heath, employment, gender equality, technology and innovation, culture, justice and safety, participation, sustainable development, migration and international cooperation, among others.
There were talks from other government officials after which the NGO statement was reviewed and they (the government) drafted the Guanajuato declaration based on the statement from NGO.
The Guanajuato Declaration was announced at the High-level Plenary Meeting of the United Nations´ General Assembly which was held September 20-22 with recommendations about the following topics:
Public policies and investment
Poverty and hunger
Technology and innovation
Access to justice and safety
BY OKOOJION EDEWEDE