(KPL) On Aug 14, a youth-led celebration, coordinated by the Lao Youth Union, for this year’s International Youth Day (IYD) in the midst of a global pandemic highlighted education and empowerment for young people and by youth themselves, emphasising how young people are taking action to make a change in their communities.
The theme “Youth Engagement for Global Action” was reflected in the organisation by the Lao Youth Union and support by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the Lao PDR. This event highlighted the importance of engaging youth at the local, national, and global levels to enrich national and multilateral institutions and processes. Participants at the event presented ideas on how youth representation and engagement in formal institutional actions can be significantly enhanced, especially to respond to COVID-19.
“In the Lao PDR, currently adolescents and young people aged 15-35 years represent 62% of the population. They are becoming the great driving force for the dynamic development of our nation,” said Mr Alounxay Sounalath, Secretary General of the Lao Youth Union.
He shared the 5 thematic priorities – Health, Education, Employment, Participation and Protection – that the Lao Youth Union recommends be incorporated in the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) 2021-2025 and contribute to achieve SDGs.
This pandemic is seriously affecting youth wellbeing, rights and choices. They face loss of opportunities for employment, education and access to essential services, including sexual and reproductive health services. Young women and girls remain particularly vulnerable.
UNFPA estimates show that from a baseline 286,000, there could be an additional 44,000 to a high of 68,000 more unintended pregnancies among women and girls in the Lao PDR due to the COVID-19.
This will also increase the maternal deaths in the Lao PDR due to COVID-19, 38% of maternal deaths are amongst young women. The school dropout rate is expected to increase by up to 5%.
“Active, engaged youth can make informed decisions that benefit them and their communities to realise the potential of a demographic dividend in the Lao PDR,” said UNFPA’s Representative, Ms. Mariam A. Khan.
The IYD revealed the winners of youth video clip making competitions. A diverse panel of youth from different backgrounds engaged in the panel discussions, with speakers coming from across the country, representing vulnerable groups. The youth shared their motivation and dreams, challenges and willingness to drive change, focusing on dignity, protection and empowerment.
Danien Mouksengtavanh, 19, is studying at Polytechnic School to become a motorbike repairman, said; “Many people around me don’t like this job, but I love it and I chose it by myself, importantly I can earn a living”
Yongkham Viphoukham, 20, a sewing teacher at LYU’s vocational centre from the province, said; “Opportunities are always available, don’t give up”.
Source: Lao News Agency