Young people say they need to be part of the solution
SIEM REAP, Cambodia, 21 March 2005 – Forty children and young people from across East Asia and the Pacific have come together in the historical city of Siem Reap to voice their desire to be included in program solutions to overcome threats that hinder their development and progress to become productive members of society.
Aged between eleven and twenty-one, the participants are taking action through a “Children and Young People’s Forum” organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Forum preceeds the 7th East Asia and Pacific Ministerial Consultation on Children which will be opened by the Honourable Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen on 23 March.
Threats to young people
Amongst the threats young people identified that had the greatest potential to destroy their future are poverty, inequality in education, child exploitation and drug abuse. These are the factors that contribute to their risk of HIV infection.
“We are not the problem in society. We are the solution. We hope that this Forum will allow us to share our voices, our fears and hopes".
Chan Kit Sze
Based on estimates from the end of 2001, young women and girls already constitute more than half of young people living with HIV/AIDS in the region. In Thailand, around 70 per cent of young people living with HIV/AIDS are girls and women aged between 15 and 24 years old. In Malaysia, 35 per cent of reported HIV infections occur among those below 29 years old, including 1.6 per cent between the ages of 13 and 19. It is estimated that there may be as many as 10 million new infections in Asia and the Pacific by 2010 if governments in the region do not scale up their response to HIV/AIDS.
Young people are the solution
“We are not the problem in society. We are the solution. We hope that this Forum will allow us to share our voices, our fears and hopes. More importantly, we hope that adults will listen to us and accept our wish to become part of the solution to the problems that overwhelm us in today’s fast growing and dynamic world”, said Chan Kit Sze, 18 from Malaysia.
Joining Chan in Cambodia are fellow Malaysian youth reporters Foo Shyh Hua, 18 and Jayaram Nagaraj, 20. Jayaram is also a youth facilitator at the Forum and a Panelist for a discussion on “Adolescent Development, Protection and Empowerment in East Asia and the Pacific” at the Ministerial Consultation.
The Children and Young People’s Forum will end on 25 March following a meeting between youth participants and Head of Delegations which will include the Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia, Mr. Ch. Ulaan; Malaysia’s Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Dato' Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Singapore’s Minister of State, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon.
NOTE TO EDITOR
About the East Asia & Pacific Ministerial Consultations