Reneka, a youth activist of Girls Advocacy Alliance (GAA), stresses how important the youth of Bangladesh is for the country’s development
The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the United Nations in 2015 created a new impetus in the thinking and action development around the world.
SDG's motto "Leave no one behind" places great emphasis on the rising youth demographics around the world, particularly in Bangladesh where they comprise 33% of the population.
We know that today's youth will be at the helm of the future and they are the driving force of development. Their involvement is crucial for Bangladesh’s prosperity and development.
As the prime movers in SDG implementation, the youth community is a major partner in the country’s economic development and supplier of manpower. They form a major component of our manpower exports and ready-made garments sector.
This should not be taken to infer that those voluntarily work for social change at all levels of society are not as important. The National Youth Policy 2018 requires the involvement of the entire youth population in the overall development of the country and implementation of SDG 2030.
As part of the accountability process, UN member states can send a report to the United Nations. As it is voluntary, there are no specific rules on how often a state should send a report to the UN. Though ideally this Voluntary National Review is sent by the government, it is supposed to be formulated through the joint efforts of the government and the civil society. As non-governmental entities, all citizens have the opportunity to know and advice on VNR, which means that the participation of stakeholders is very important. Civil society can bring the thoughts and opinions of the people to the government by submitting citizen reports to the government. Every year the United Nations organizes “High Level Political Forums” (HLPF) and jointly meets with government and non-government representatives on the progress, possibilities, and challenges of VNR sent by the state.
There are opportunities for youth to participate in the SDG 2030 accountability process at local, regional, and international levels. Therefore, all the volunteer work through public and private organizations deserves to be mentioned in Bangladesh’s 2020 Voluntary National Review on SDG implementation.
Bangladesh had previously responded to this in 2016. In 2020, a national workshop organized by Plan International Bangladesh and the Citizen Platform for SDGs, where one of the demands of youth was to listen to the views and opinions of young people while formulating VNRs and evaluate their contribution to SDG progress, this was made known.
The ministries in charge this year have spoken to stakeholders ahead of the VNR report. Following this, the Ministry of Youth and Action also organized a meeting with youth demographics.
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How can the youth of our country give their opinion or join high-level political forums?
The agenda for SDG 2030 requires nine important partners to join the United Nations every year. One of them is a group of children and youth. Thanks to this, I have had the opportunity to represent the Girls' Advocacy Alliance this year at a meeting of the Upper Political Forum, through which I have been able to reach out to the international community.
It is an excellent opportunity for all children and youth to participate. It provided an opportunity to talk about the various problems in the lives of women in Bangladesh, from sanitary hygiene to a surge in child marriages during the Covid-19 lockdown, to pervasive patriarchal values in the country, and amending the outdated Evidence Act 155 (4) on rape.
We called on the United Nations and all government agencies to ensure the participation of the underprivileged youth and help them empower young women in developing countries like Bangladesh.
Bangladesh leads South Asia in terms of women empowerment, for which we laud the government, and urge them, as well as every international organizations working in the country to ensure that we do not take a single step back.
This article has been published under special arrangement as part of a partnership with Plan International Bangladesh