Young people and policymakers have celebrated International Youth Day under the theme: Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health.
The celebration was held on Aug 13 at the Lao Youth Union Office. The Lao Youth Union (LYU) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) are also organizing a series of youth engagement activities, to allow young people to exchange experiences, express their views and have their voices heard.
Vice Secretary General of LYU Nuanthong Souvanvixay said “This year International Youth Day’s theme reflects well with our current situation which youth are facing, we must adapt ourselves to keep healthy, how we adopt innovative technology in daily life as well as protecting ourselves from Covid-19.”
Food security increases the risk of malnutrition that hampers adolescents’ and young people’s development; those aged between 15-19 are especially vulnerable. Four out of 10 adolescent girls are anemic. In addition, food insecurity and poverty are the driving force for child marriage – one in 5 adolescent girls are already married. LSIS II also shows that adolescent pregnancy in Laos remains high at 83 births per 1,000 girls.
COVID-19 impacts adolescents and young people in various areas, including education, reproductive and sexual health, mental health, psychosocial issues, and socio-economic impacts, reveals the COVID-19 Impact Assessment. For example, the pandemic increases school dropout rates among adolescents and young people, putting them at high risk of early marriage and unplanned pregnancy.
“Over half of the population are young people below the age of 24; the county’s prosperity is dependent on their skills, capacities and well being,” said UNFPA Representative Mariam A. Khan. “Youth engagement is at the heart of the ICPD and UNFPA’s work. UNFPA engages with and empowers youth through the innovative Noi ecosystem and the Me, My Body, My Future, My Planet campaign, both aligned to the National Youth and Adolescent Development Strategy,” she added.
Adolescent and youth development are one of the government’s commitments to the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). The Lao PDR pledged to increase investments for adolescents and youth, especially young women, through the “Noi framework” and “Noi ecosystem” and adjust investments to reap demographic dividends’ potential benefits.
At the event, young people shared their experiences on youth focused response to COVID-19 and addressing mental and psychosocial issues during the pandemic, organic farming, entrepreneurship and recycling waste.
The event also announced the winner of the speech contest. Other activities to be conducted following the event: the Youth Virtual Workshop on COVID-19 impacts on business and health, social media campaign and the #YouthAgainstCOVID19 campaign.
All adolescents and interested young people are welcome to join. Visit UNFPA Laos Facebook Page for more info.
Source: Lao News Agency