Harnessing youth energy to speak out on social issues
Young people aged 14-29 make up 31 per cent of Azerbaijan’s population. UNICEF is working with the Government under the State Programme on Youth to foster confidence and self-esteem in this age group, guiding them towards taking up civic responsibility and pro-actively addressing social issues.
An update on Azerbaijan’s Youth Law is pending approval by Parliament, with a National Youth Strategy to be announced in 2015.
In 2012-13 UNICEF provided technical assistance to bring the law in compliance with the best international standards.
The country’s young people are in the first stages of learning to express themselves independently. Family has been the authority up till now, with decisions taken by parents and little sharing of views with young people taking place. Through a training programme over the last three years under the International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF), UNICEF is encouraging the youth to realise they have a contribution to make to society.
Assured that their voices will be heard, Youth Advocates’ meetings are hosted by the local government authorities. At these, the task in hand isto agree the cooperation between Advocates and local government on identifying the social issues affectingtheir communities and proposing ideas for rectifying them.Taking advantage of social media’s range, UNICEF is also reaching out to a wide audience of youth ready, willing and able to communicate via their mobile phones and tablets. A website and internet chat facility has been pioneered in conjunction with the National AIDS Centre, enabling young people to access vital information concerning the HIV and AIDS epidemic. A Facebook page is also playing a part in disseminating messages on a regular basis, helping to build a cohesive youth network at the same time.