The Era of Youth Engagement

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Frederick Putra Wijaya, a fifth year medical student from Indonesia. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

            It was only over a month ago since we celebrated International Youth Day. The UN has grasped the importance of youth participation as a valuable partner to the government and society since 1965.[1] Youth participation itself has gained recognition by various stakeholders.[2] In a small study conducted during the 66th World Health Assembly (WHA), involvement of youth was deemed accepted by Member States and had them committed to include youth as part of their official delegations for future WHAs.[3]

            As future generations of this world, youths should be entitled to be involved in decision making platforms. Not only will it make a more inclusive environment, but it will also raise awareness and interest amongst youths. A very fine example of youth activism is Malala Yousafzai who brought to light the importance of female education. Similarly, Greta Thunberg advocated for the mitigation of climate change. Both led to a generational consciousness on the urgency of the issue, established a foundation to magnify their work and even collaborated with various stakeholders to actually bring impact to the world.[4],[5]

            Only earlier this year, Ms. Thunberg, through FridaysForFuture, donated a hundred thousand euros to the WHO Foundation in support of vaccine equity. Once given the stage to vocalise her concerns, now she’s helping people to survive the pandemic.[6] Imagine how much bigger the impact to the health sector could be when more youths are given the chance to contribute their ideas and actions.

            Consequently, giving youths a platform to express their ideas is essential. The WHO, as the main coordinator of global health affairs, has set an example by establishing the Youth Council. It focuses on accommodating young people by including them into the frame of discussion. Although the practice is far from ideal, it was one of the first steps that others could and should follow.[7],[8] A similar effort done by one of the other UN agencies, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, is to gather ideas from youths by implementing the Model UN (MUN) Refugee Challenge. The agency calls for the youth-centred event, which simulates a UN meeting to discuss global issues, to collaborate and incentivises the process. In the simulation that results in a document filled with suggested solutions for the topic at hand, the UNHCR aims to gather the best ideas and subsequently consider them into their actual meetings. After taking this into consideration, feasible solutions will be implemented in real life situations. In a nutshell, including youths in decision making brings a fresh perspective to an issue.[9]










About the author

Frederick Putra Wijaya is a fifth year medical student from Indonesia. His interest includes the medical field and international relations. He has attended numerous Model United Nations conferences as his way to channel his interests for world affairs, and more recently for policy making. He did his research on the field of sports science and hoping to do more in the future.

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