“Young people must be given the skills, resources and opportunities to succeed."
Nearly half of the global population, some three billion people, is under 25 years old. The vast majority of them struggle to stay in school, to access training, to find a job, to make their voices heard in society. But if we empower these millions of young people, educate them, help them to become the best and most productive citizens they can be, we will set them on a course to improve their lives, grow their countries’ economies, strengthen their societies, and lift up and empower the generations coming up behind them.
That is exactly what the United States Agency For International Development, or USAID, had in mind when it initiated its first ever policy on Youth in Development. To help them reach their full potential, said USAID Administrator, Dr. Rajiv Shah, “young people must be given the skills, resources and opportunities to succeed through quality education, access to health care, adequate nutrition, supportive families and social networks, and the promise of good jobs. . . . [Then] they can be proponents of stable democracies, strong societies and prosperous economies.”
If, however, we ignore their plight and waste this opportunity, “there is another, less hopeful vision: where a large part of the population in developing countries is unemployed, frustrated, volatile, and subject to the siren songs of warlords, crime kingpins and traffickers in persons alike,” said Dr. Shah.
Working with a slew of non-governmental and civil society partners, USAID is developing a smart, innovative approach toward integrating youth issues in its programs; strengthening existing employment, education and citizenship programs for young people; as well as inviting them to participate in other USAID programs, initiatives and operations.
In short, through this new, innovative approach, USAID implements a policy based on the core assumption that young people are valuable assets in society which must be a partner in development.
“With the release of this policy,” said Dr. Shah, “USAID reaffirms its commitment to empowering young people with the tools they need to create a more prosperous and peaceful world for us all.”