Young people can be a positive force for development if they are provided with the skills, knowledge and proper opportunities. Today, there are around 1.2 billion youth aged 15 to 24, accounting for 16 per cent of the global population. Projections suggest that the number of youths will reach 1.3 billion by 2030 and almost 1.34 billion by 2050.

To celebrate the qualities of young people, women and men, and recognise the challenges they are facing, August 12 of each year has been designated as International Youth Day.

This year’s theme, ‘Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health’, highlights the fact that the “success of  such a global effort will not be achieved without the active participation of young people”.

During the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) 2021 Youth Forum, youth participants stressed the importance of working towards more equitable food systems. Additionally, they underlined the importance of empowering youth to make informed decisions on food choices through increasing global education on the healthiest and most sustainable options for both individuals and the environment.

The participation of youths is necessary in many other areas, as delineated in The World Youth Report: Youth Social Entrepreneurship and the 2030 Agenda, published in 2020 by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat. This report seeks to contribute to the understanding of how youth social entrepreneurship can support youth development and help accelerate the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), including the long-term goals on issues such as the global climate crisis, as outlined in this year’s theme to mark the International Youth Day.

Furthermore, youth activism should not be limited to environmental issues. Young people’s active participation is also needed in the political, educational, social and economic spheres. Indeed, on a European level, the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027 provides a framework of objectives, priorities, principles, measures and core areas for youth policy cooperation, based on the Council Resol­ution of November 26, 2018.

The EU Youth Strategy fosters youth participation in democratic life, supports social and civic engagement and ensures that all young people have the necessary resources to participate in society. It focuses on three core areas of action, revolving around three words: engage, connect and empower.

Youth activism was also the main highlight during an online workshop organised in March 2021 by the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET) in cooperation with the European Youth Forum (YFJ). Over 50 youth civil socie­ty representatives and equality bodies were brought together to discuss how they should better tackle age discrimination and how to improve their engagement with youths.

The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE), an independent equality body entrusted by Chapter 456 of the Laws of Malta to safeguard equality, actively participated in this workshop.

Participants explored ways to strengthen collaboration bet­ween equality bodies and young people to fight discrimination. Young women and men shared their knowledge and experience on how to establish this coopera­tion. They discussed how equality bodies should mainstream youth engagement across different aspects of their work by including youth in their strategy and work plans, engaging more in conversation with young people on social media channels  and co-creating relevant awareness-raising materials.

To this end, the NCPE is currently circulating an online survey among young people aged 15 to 29 to gauge their level of awareness concerning discrimi­nation and sexual harassment in order to identify their level of knowledge and expectations. This would enable the NCPE to improve its reach among young people and better address their concerns. Ideally this short five-minute survey should be completed by August 27. More information is available on NCPE’s social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter).

Moreover, the NCPE investigates complaints of people who believe they are victims of discrimination on the ground of age. It also works to safeguard equality in the areas covered by its remit by raising awareness through training and information campaigns, networking with different stakeholders,  carrying out research and giving feedback to policies.

Indeed, in 2020, as part of its feedback on the draft National Youth Policy – Towards 2030, the NCPE stated that the policy should strive for the elimination of discrimination and harassment of young people when these happen on the basis of their age  but also when they are related to other intersecting identities, such as gender, race/ethnic origin, religion/beliefs, sexual orientation and gender identity, with special attention given to hate-speech, especially on social media.

The NCPE also recommended that all entities offering services to youths should be aware of the different needs and barriers experienced by young people from different social groups so that their services can adequately cater for all young people and their intersecting identities. Young women and men should not be seen as targets or recipients but as contributors towards innovative solutions.

On International Youth Day, let us step up efforts to involve young people in decision-making processes and provide them with an opportunity to assume leadership roles and gain skills that lead to better policies in future.

The National Commission for the Promotion of Equality (NCPE) can be contacted on 2295 7850, at or via their Facebook page.

Renee Laiviera, NCPE Commissioner

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