Swami Vivekananda once said, “A brave, frank, clean-hearted, courageous and aspiring youth is the only foundation on which the future nation can be built.” This message resonates across various realms in the contemporary world as much as it did during Swami Vivekananda’s time. Recently, I got the opportunity to represent this thought and message at the largest of platforms – the 75th anniversary of UNESCO’s founding. This was as part of the UNESCO NGO Liaison Committee’s Call for Youth Engagement. The NGO Liaison Committee’s work is to follow the day-to-day grassroots activities of all its member NGOs (Non-governmental organisations), and incorporate them in the work of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The Committee was looking for Youth Leaders from across the world to come together and chart out a plan to more effectively harness the potential of the youth when it came to social work and movements internationally. The Committee itself liaises with over 400 NGOs from around the world. I applied for participation in the consultation process and got selected in this mega-event of the most renowned social organizations, working in disparate areas of human upliftment and welfare.
There were almost 60 Youth Leaders from across the world, representing diverse organisations, interests and communities, as part of this international exercise. Everyone was united with one common intention – to facilitate youth advocacy and leadership in NGOs across the world, making sure that young people are given an equal chance in positions of responsibility and decision-making. On the call, discussions were held on the content of a Position Paper on Youth and Guidelines for Advocacy, which will be presented in time for the 75th anniversary celebrations of UNESCO. The Position Paper will serve as an important document for the NGOs in official partnership, as well as the Liaison Committee Youth Strategy, to maintain young people engaged and contributing to the functioning and decision making of NGOs and social movements across the world.
Based on the interactions and discussions in the meeting as well as my experience and past work in social organizations and movements, I was selected to lead the drafting committee of the Position Paper. It was a humbling event to be placed on such an important position and one that came with a great responsibility – of steering an international action-plan for mobilisation of, and engagement with, the youth when it came to social work. Working together with dynamic youth leaders from various organizations gave us a lot of perspectives on the workings of other organisations and the common need to involve young people from around the world in decision-making and non-tokenistic leadership positions within these organisations. The Position Paper has now been finalised and I have been asked to present the paper with Ms. Kundu at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of UNESCO’s founding.
The event has helped me in getting critical insights into ways to encourage meaningful participation of young people when it comes to social work for addressing the trials and tribulations of mankind today, be it climate change, resource depletion, poverty and malnutrition or illiteracy, deculturalization, conflict, changing disease patterns, as well as gender, racial and ethnical inequalities. I hope that my sincere alignment and dedication to Dharma will help me attain greater levels of truth through my contributions to society in the days ahead.
For more information on UNESCO’s 75th Anniversary and the NGO Liaison Committee’s Call for Youth Engagement, please visit here.