On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

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In an in-depth survey published today, the European Youth Forum has revealed more than three-quarters of young people feel disciminated against, mostly (34.5%) because of their gender, but also (29%) because of simply being young[1]. To mark Human Rights Day, the Youth Forum calls for an end to age-based discrimination and for young people to be given full access to their rights.

The study, “Multiple discimination and young people in Europe[2] “, concludes that young people face discrimination because of their age, but when other factors such as gender, sexual orientation, physical appareance and religion combine with age this exacerbates the discrimination that they face. Such “multiple discrimination” prevents many young people from enjoying equal opportunities and real equality.

The in-depth survey also highlights that LGBTI youth are more likely to experience discrimination than any other age group. Young women are also particualrly at risk of discrimination due to pregnancy and childbirth leading to employers seeing them as “less productive”. The study also examines where discrimination takes place and finds that over half (53.8%) of young people surveyed experience discrimination in education, 50% when looking for a job, 42% at the workplace and 29% when looking for accommodation.

Such discrimination has a serious negative impact on young people’s opportunities. For example, discrimination in schools increases the likelihood that young people will drop out. Discrimination of young people is often internalised and, therefore, they do not feel empowered to speak out about it.

Stefano Felician Beccari, Board Member of the European Youth Forum, said:

“It is a sad indictment of our society that simply by being young you face discrimination in the very places that should be places of safety, such as schools and other education institutions. This is made even worse when combined with other factors such as gender, sexual orientation, religion or even how we look or dress. On Human Rights Day, we call on the institutions and governmanents who have the duty to ensure that we are free from discrimination to properly enforce the laws that are already in place and to help empower young people so that they can stand up for their own rights!

The European Youth Forum calls for proper enforcement of antidiscrimination law, but also for the current list of grounds for discrimination to be broadened and for awareness to be raised about the current laws that are in place. Finally, it must be easier for people to lodge discrimination complaints and there must be effective and proportionate sanctions.

In several events this week coinciding with Human Rights Day, the European Youth Forum also launched – at a high-level event at the United Nations in Geneva – a compendium book bringing together all of the existing laws related to youth rights internationally.  At the event the Youth Forum called for a convention on the rights of young people, in order that there are legal tools for the protection and recognition of youth rights.

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