The World Assembly of Youth (WAY) is marking its 71st Anniversary at a difficult time, compounded by an unprecedented global health crisis with severe economic and social impacts. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected the lives of young people everywhere, and young people are actively helping respond to this crisis. This crisis has served as a magnifying glass, bringing underlying issues for young people to the forefront.
Young women, and youth in lower-income countries have been particularly hit the hardest by the pandemic. Over 70 percent of youth who study have been adversely affected by the closing of schools, universities, and training centres, with some 65 percent of young people reporting having learnt less since the pandemic’s inception. Young workers have also felt the heavy toll of COVID-19’s influence on the employment sector, while 41 percent of young people have had their income reduced.
Despite the major impacts of COVID-19 being felt by youth worldwide, it revealed that youth are actively participating in social activism, with 31 percent volunteering, and 27 percent making donations towards the pandemic response. There are been 71 years of determined journey and dedication in serving youth and national youth councils, worldwide. We have been working devotedly for the promotion of young people and youth organisations in different programme areas such as: employment, environment, human rights, democracy, population, health, drugs, community development, leadership training, and we will continue to do so together with our members and other stakeholders.
History has it, founded in 1949, WAY is the international coordinating body of national youth councils and youth organisations. WAY has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC)) and works together with several agencies of the United Nations including UNEP, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNICEF, ILO, WHO, UNCTAD and many more. WAY currently has 140 members from all continents of the world. Having such large network, it is now, even more, promising for WAY to realise its aim of unlocking youth potential and tackling youth issues with cooperation and support from all of its vigorous members.
As our way forward approach, we have been coming out with strategies which are and shall be implemented to be in line with our 4th Millennium Plan of Actions that were specially designed to provide constructive progression towards sustainable development of young people and the societies. To amplify youth voices and action, WAY is calling for investments in decent jobs for youth, protection of young people’s human rights, employment and training programmes, social protection and unemployment benefits, and stronger mental health support.
Let us work together, joining our hands, side-by-side, in providing young people with the opportunities and platforms which not only fully develop their potential but also flourish their characters and inspirations. As we celebrate our attainment, we wish for the endless support from our members, volunteers, stakeholders, young people, and the global community at large.
We also would like to thank everyone for believing in WAY and standing with us during these 71 years. Our doors are always opened for young people as we work for the promotion of youth and youth organisations in different programme areas, worldwide.
Today, we urge young people to stand up for their rights and hold decision makers accountable to ensure youth human rights are prioritised. Happy Anniversary WAY!