International Youth Day 2017 was dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. On Saturday, 12th August, the world was celebrating young peace-builders. This brought a very important question to my mind : Why is it so important for young people to be involved in peace-building ?
Never before has the world been as connected as it is today. However, we as individuals still struggle to find ways to live together. As a result, our world faces new, complex challenges which traverse borders and cannot be solved by just one country working alone. And if we are to tackle these challenges, we need urgently to invest in the youth, because empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. But how can we empower young people to reject the messengers of hate and fear ?
‘Education for all’ is the golden key to creating a sustainable and peaceful future. How are we supposed to talk about sustainable peacekeeping if almost 700 million young people are illiterate and do not have the awareness necessary to improve their living conditions ?
Education is a very powerful tool which fosters responsible global citizenship, critical thinking and empathy. It is a fact that without education the world will witness more conflicts and go through replicated cycles of violence in the future. Education enables young people to know and understand their rights, indeed, how can they build peace, if they even don’t know their rights to a peaceful life ?! Education allows them to fulfill their potential and as a consequence, they can fearlessly speak their mind and they can fearlessly make their voices clear and loud. Educated young people can efficiently recognize their power, and as a result, they can lead the change and shape the world they want.
While writing this article, i had to question myself, i am educated and people who will be reading this are obviously too ! What kind of peace-building work can we do ? Dear reader, answering this question will end up showing you more than you wanted to know. But, could you even find an answer ?
Building peace around us starts by striving to change our mindsets : If we can do something about the parts of our culture that teach a person to hate someone else, we can all witness change in our communities. We aren’t born with such extreme views, and if we can learn to hate, we can definitely be taught to love.
Peace requires to realize that we are all in this together, so it requires from us to engage in sincere dialogue with individuals that are different from our own. That’s why, we cannot talk about sustainable development, if we are still unable to accept the others. Tolerance shows us how we see ourselves through others, the reason why tolerance starts within us. Today, more than ever, in the midst of all this violence, finding our inner peace must become the sole concern of each one of us. This can be achieved through recognizing our obstacles as opportunities to bettering ourselves and through channeling our anger and frustration into positive change and social impact.
The current generation of youth are the largest in history, therefore considering the needs of youth in matters of peace is a demographic imperative.
As a young global advocate, i call on my peers to join the efforts to support the most vulnerable young people in their endeavors, i call on citizens of the world to spread the word of peace by sticking up for themselves, by celebrating their differences and by inspiring and mobilizing others to take actions towards a more just and prosperous future.
And never doubt a group of sincere, committed people committed towards changing the world !