Afghan youth must be at forefront of country’s development agenda, say Samangan leaders
AYBAK - The active participation of youth in Afghanistan’s development agenda is of critical importance, said participants in a recent UN-backed symposium in the northern province of Samangan.
Led by Governor Latif Ibrahimi, and organized by UNAMA’s Mazar regional office, the event drew more than 60 participants to strategize on ways to consolidate the base of Afghanistan’s youth in development initiatives and in local and national political processes.
During the lively roundtable-style symposium, provincial authorities, civil society representatives and youth advocates stressed the importance of Afghanistan’s new generation for any development planning and shared their concerns and aspirations about how to address the pressing issues affecting their communities.
“We must be involved in decisions affecting us as young people throughout Samangan and across Afghanistan,” said Parviz Hashemi, a youth advocate who went on to explain how, in the absence of substantial education opportunities, young people are vulnerable not only to drugs and crime but also to being caught up in insurgency activities.
Governor Ibrahimi echoed these sentiments by underscoring the importance of Afghan youth adding their voices to decision-making processes ahead of the implementation of development projects.
“I am glad that youth are putting themselves forward in the interest of developing this province,” said Ibrahimi. “I will ensure that youth are involved in the work of provincial departments, from planning to implementation.”
Notably, Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations anywhere in the world. Estimates indicate that the majority of the country’s population – upwards of 75 per cent – is below the age of 30, making young Afghans a vital demographic.
Despite the recognition of youth as an invaluable resource in advancing development and shaping Afghanistan’s future, many young Afghans remain marginalized, impoverished and illiterate.
Moreover, they account for an inordinate number of casualties from Afghanistan’s protracted war. Thousands of young Afghans have been killed or maimed; have dropped out of school; or have been displaced by the conflict along with their families.
In concluding the symposium, Ibrahimi committed to youth representatives being included in all Provincial Development Committee meetings where decisions are made in planning and implementation of local projects. Other participants, for their part, recommended a long-term perspective in achieving real youth development, employment opportunities and involvement in decision-making processes.
Organized by UNAMA’s regional office in Mazar, the Samangan event was part of a countrywide outreach programme aimed at creating platforms – using radio, television and social media – for local communities to engage in dialogue on pressing issues.
Located in the north of Afghanistan, Samangan is a mostly rural and agricultural province that has a population of fewer than 400,000.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.