The Iranian Ministry of Youth and Sports in collaboration with UNESCO, the Iranian National Commission for UNESCO, UNICEF and UNFPA, organized an event in Tehran to celebrate International Youth Day 2018.
The celebration highlighted the importance of “Safe Spaces for Youth” as the theme of the year to promote mutual respect and constructive dialogue in the country.
Safe Spaces can be defined as platforms where youth can come together, freely express themselves, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests and participate in decision-making processes. Available and accessible physical or virtual spaces can help youth feel valued and advance their cognitive, emotional and social skills as they transition into adulthood.
The event took at Enghelab Sport Complex and created a platform for dialogue among representatives of UN Agencies, government officials, and youth representatives.
The youth representatives shared their opinions on issues such as youth participation in entrepreneurship, tourism, and the promotion of peace, and made suggestions on how UN agencies and government entities could better support them in their efforts.
At the beginning of the event, Ms. Maryam Soltanzadeh, Programme Officer for Education at the UNESCO Tehran Cluster Office highlighted the fact that youth are not just beneficiaries of the UNESCO’s work, but essential actors in finding solutions to the issues faced by young people in the world today. “UNESCO is working with youth from countries across the world to provide better opportunities for education, employment, and social and economic participation” she said.
UNICEF Representative, Dr. Will Parks, quoted Nelson Mandela, and said: “If you want to build a successful and peaceful country, you should invest in children and young people first”. He underscored the great global challenges of our time including climate change, and extensive migration and forced displacement around the world, and stressed the need for empowering children, adolescents and youth with appropriate skills and knowledge to tackle these challenges.
UNFPA Representative, Dr. Leila Joudane, also reiterated a need for empowering young people to participate in policy dialogue and to become ambassadors of peace.
On 17 December 1999, in its resolution 54/120, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day. The theme selected for International Youth Day 2018 is Safe Spaces for Youth in order to promote youth engagement and empowerment by exploring the role of safe spaces in contributing to mutual respect and constructive dialogue.