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“Our time. Our turn. Our future”
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“Our time. Our turn. Our future”

Young people in sixteen countries now have the opportunity to develop innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges that hinder marginalized youths from reaching their full potential. Vibhu Sharma, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Delhi, India,  is one of the young global board members of the initiative. She argues that young people across the Commonwealth should get involved in Generation Unlimited.

Since the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched in 2015, their achievement has become an essential target for many governments, agencies and organizations around the world. In September of this year, Generation Unlimited (Gen-U), another important initiative was launched.It is being spearheaded by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP ), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),  and the United Nations Youth Envoy, to name a few.

Under Gen-U, young people, who make up 100% of the world’s future, are at the center of a partnership that also includes participants from the public and private sectors. These partners are working together to co-create scalable solutions to address some of the crucial issues affecting young people around the world.The Gen-U governance structure includes:

  • Leaders who advocate for Gen-U and mobilize resources
  • The Global Board which provides strategic direction
  • The Partnership Forum which implements plans
  • The Champions – who are high-profile individuals lending their voice and credibility to the initiative
  • The Secretariat  – which brings together the expertise of multiple partners to achieve Gen-U’s objectives.

Launched alongside the United Nations Youth Strategy in September this year, the Gen-U initiative aims to ensure that all young people, including the most marginalized, the impoverished, those who are in conflict situations or on the move, those who are in care institutions, or are disabled, women and girls, have access to secondary education. It also aims to ensure that adolescents ages 10 – 24 years have skills development opportunities  to make them employable. Gen-U is also focused on gender equity, and on empowering girls to reach their full potential. These are all developments that the marginalized, disabled persons, the impoverished, women and Commonwealth youths with resource-strained education systems, little employable skills and training, and no jobs can benefit from.

Gen-U demonstrates that while it is crucial to give young people a platform to raise their concerns, it is equally important that they are at the forefront of development as problem solvers, enactors, developers and change makers.One element of the initiative is the Gen-U Youth Challenge which brings young people together in workshops to design innovative solutions to the global challenges in youth development.Rechristened as ‘YuWaah’ by UNICEF India, to resonate with Indian adolescents,’ the Gen-U Youth Challenge is already engaging with, listening  to and co-creating solutions with India’s youth to fulfill their aspirations for education, skills and employment.

As this ambitious partnership seeks to achieve the already bold objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it is praiseworthy that Gen-U intends to leave no one behind and is therefore inclusive of persons with disabilities.I have been selected to be one of the young global board members of Generation Unlimited and shall be responsible for ensuring that the solutions are inclusive of persons with disabilities, and for mentoring young people, guiding the formulation of policy proposals and advocacy priorities.As a Youth Disability Rights Coordinator with the Commonwealth Youth Human Rights and Democracy Network (CYHRDN),  and a YourCommonwealth Correspondent, I want to highlight  to Commonwealth youths the opportunity that Gen-U offers us to be at to the forefront of development, to unleash our potential and to help address the challenges facing our nations. As young people, we have the boundless potential to shape our future, and we are the ones who know where energies need to be invested to shape a better future.

While Gen-U provides us with a platform, we need to adopt the right attitude, and must have the will to put our concerns on the table.We have the ideas to generate solutions that can help to realize our goals of education, skills development, employment and hence empowerment. In short, we have the capacity,  and the potential to build an inclusive world.Why should we be the recipients of the welfare policies accorded to us, and why should we remain indifferent to the programmes that benefit the privileged, while our marginalized peers lag behind them? “Be the change, you want,” someone once said, and now is the time for us to be that change. Gen-U’s motto is “Our time. Our turn. Our Future.” It aptly suggests that as young people we are responsible for bringing the change,  and creating the future we want. Join us. I will be providing Gen-U updates on Twitter: @vibhusharma_11

 

Photo credit: via pexels (license)

About me: I am passionate about working for and with people with disabilities, particularly visual impairment. I am proud that students with visual impairment benefit from my success convincing the Central Board of Secondary Education to conduct India’s high school exams for these students on computers with screen-readers.

I represent the status of persons with disabilities at international and national conferences. I am a Global Board member of Generation Unlimited, UNICEF, and the Co-Chair of the Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities – Youth Council, UNICEF. Reach me on Twitter: @vibhusharma_11

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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