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Young people empowered to bring change in Azerbaijan

By Claudia Amico

BAKU, 18 December 2012 - Young people represent a great opportunity for the development of Azerbaijan. Although some may look at the situation of young people and see problems: unemployment, drug use, HIV and AIDS, UNICEF looks at young people as important agents of change in their development.

More than 31 per cent of Azerbaijan’s population is in the very dynamic age-range of 15-29 years – and more than half the population is aged under 30.

UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to transform the youth houses from occasional English or computer training centres to places where young people gather, talk through local issues and problems, and bring them to the attention of the region’s authorities.

By working with several Olympic centres to help them embrace a new business model, young people can help themselves, and the community in which they live.

This year`s highlight was a visit by UNICEF goodwill ambassador, Shakira, who met with teenage footballers from a UNICEF-supported national girls’ football league. She encouraged the athletes to inspire their peers to grasp their future, including through continuing to seek an education.

“Sport is a great tool to socialize and also is a great tool for government and to society in general to keep kids in the school,” Shakira said during her visit.

UNICEF embraces the concept of sport for development – using sports as a vehicle for all kinds of development activities from girls’ empowerment to life-skills training.



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