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International Youth Day 2019 – how the youth around the globe is leading the change

By Levan Abramishvili
Tuesday, August 13
August 12 was first designated International Youth Day (IYD) by the UN General Assembly in 1999 and served as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth. It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. The first IYD was observed on August 12, 2000.

According to the UN, this year’s theme is “transforming education,” which highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves.

“Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” – International Youth Day 2019 will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education so that it becomes a powerful tool to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” reads the statement of the UN.

There are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world, which is the largest youth population ever. The past few years have seen a significant rise in youth activism and engagement in civic life.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede, stopped going to school to protest inaction on climate change, saying there was little point in studying for a future that may not exist.

She gave a speech at the global climate summit in Poland, addressing the UN’s Secretary-General and others and accused them of “stealing [children’s] future in front of their very eyes.” What she started is seeing growth and response all over the world.

Earlier this year, tens of thousands of students also refused to go to school in Brussels and held a march, demanding action against climate change. This April, part of Georgian students also went on strike ‘for the environment.’ Instead of going to schools and universities, they gathered on Rustaveli avenue, demanding specific issues to be solved, like restoring trams in Tbilisi, keeping the sidewalks free of cars, making a central park in place of the old Hippodrome, and most importantly, for the government to stop building new HPPs.

“In response to your indifference and greed, we, the youth of Georgia, decided to strike, because you have already been given enough time, but there are no signs of change,“ students addressed the government.

The Georgian youth is also engaged heavily in the political processes in the country. Last year, during the protests triggered by the raiding of two nightclubs in Tbilisi, it was the youth who was most active in demanding more humane drug policy. Young people are also at the heart of the anti-occupation rallies on Rustaveli avenue that have been going on for a few months now.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Georgia, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, celebrated IYD by introducing three young activists from Georgia – Anuki Mosiashvili, Sophie Beria and Esma Gumberidze.

Anuki Mosiashvili is a trainer and a young activist advocating for gender equality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. According to her, “innovation is the best tool for young people to receive education and acquire the most important skill - to speak up so that all hear their voice.”

Sophie Beria is a young human rights activist with a focus on the issues of gender equality, youth engagement, education, and healthcare. She works with young people, organizing training, meetings, and consulting sessions. She is a co-founder of the first Georgian website that provides young people with information about their own body and reproductive health, ‘’

According to UNFPA, the safe virtual space has already reached thousands of young people and “helped them raise their awareness on issues such as healthy and non-violent relationships, sexual harassment, bodily autonomy, safety, etc.”

“I believe that everyone has the right to receive accurate, non-discriminatory and comprehensive medical information about their own body, which will then allow them to make informed decisions,” said Sophie.

Esma Gumberidze, another young activist, works on the protection of the rights of women, children, people with disabilities and the elderly; she also writes articles and blog posts, conducts training, delivers lectures and is a radio broadcaster.

She highlighted that blind and visually impaired students have limited access to textbooks, but the problem would be solved if the textbooks were converted into a format adaptable to the screen reader software.

UNFPA showed just a few bright young women working tirelessly for a better future in Georgia. There are many more working on a wide range of issues, including climate change and equality for everyone.