Youth Day: A Call for Inclusion and Representation

17 Agustus 2023

A week ago, a spark ignited within me when I stumbled upon Yasmina Benslimane's words on LinkedIn. An enigmatic force as a Feminist Activist, Communications Specialist & Women Empowerment Coach, Yasmina's post reverberated about International Youth Day. The timing seemed serendipitous, as my recent conversations with her had unfurled realms of feminism, gender equality, and the resonance of youth, the very areas that have animated my discourse. The icing on the cake? She recently received honors from the  Forbes 30 under 30 in Puerto Rico. The privilege of knowing and working for her is a cherished jewel in my journey

 

As I embarked on this reflective journey, my mind wove a narrative that transcends mere coincidence. The crux of my contemplation is crystallized below.

 

International Youth Day acts as a potent beacon, illuminating a glaring gap that challenges the essence of youth involvement in paramount discussions and decision-making realms. A disheartening reality emerges – young voices are often muted, brushed aside, or underestimated. Across sectors and corridors of power, an unsettling trend persists – the sidelining of youth from consequential conversations. A cloak of inexperience is cast, a perception that their perspectives are inconsequential. This flawed lens veils the inherent vigor, ingenuity, and fresh perspectives that the young bring to the forefront. Tragic tales abound where pivotal decisions unfold without the mosaic of youth insights, culminating in policies that brush past their unmet needs.

 

The irony couldn't be starker: an event held by AFS Intercultural Programs and United Nations to hold International Youth Day, yet the dialogue that unfolds on the platform is devoid of the very demographic it's meant to honor. The implications are profound, echoing a haunting sentiment that even on a day earmarked for youth acknowledgement, their voices are but whispers in the corridors of policy formation.

 Source: AFS's LinkedIn

The repercussions of this exclusion ripple through individuals and societies alike. The fallout of absent youth voices in decision-making is multifaceted – it seeds policies that neglect the diverse spectrum of needs and aspirations. Further, this vacuum perpetuates the silence of marginalized youth, entrenched inequalities deepening their chasm. Acknowledging the significance of youth inclusion isn't just a matter of social niceties; it's an urgent demand for inclusive societies rooted in decisions that echo the collective pulse.

 

Yet, glimmers of change pierce the shadows. Some organizations have heeded the call, erecting platforms for youth representation and channeling their input into the decision-making cauldron. Empowering strides are made when youthful perspectives blend with seasoned wisdom, spawning a discourse rich in multigenerational insights. To traverse this transformative path, it's pivotal for leaders to actively seek, respect, and embrace youth viewpoints. Youth representatives within policy-making bodies, transparent avenues for input – these are not mere steps but leaps towards a richer, more holistic narrative.

 

To commemorate Indonesia's independence day, the clarion call echoes with resonance. Let us, in the spirit of Soekarno, awaken to the urgency of engaging our youth. As he eloquently stated, "Give me ten youths and I will shake the world." These words aren't just etched in history; they are an invocation to realize the potential within our youth. In closing, the symphony of International Youth Day, Yasmina Benslimane's insights, and Soekarno's resounding words conjures a resolute call to action. A call to eradicate the shadows of exclusion, to empower the youth, to harness their vibrancy and dreams, and to forge a path that aligns with our aspirations as a nation by weaving them into the very fabric of our nation's narrative – a narrative of inclusivity, dynamism, and promise.

 

About the Author:

Anindwitya Rizqi Monica is a co-founder, entrepreneur, consultant, and speaker in gender equality and tourism. She is the visionary founder of Women in Tourism Indonesia (WTID) and the owner of JogJamu Indonesia, a small business focused on herbal drinks and women's empowerment.