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17-year-old Iranian representing Middle East and North Africa at Global Youth Forum in New York

Tehran, 9 December 2007 – Pardis Bayennat, a 17-year-old girl from Tehran is representing Iran and the wider Middle Eastern and Northern Africa region at a global youth forum that begins in New York today.

Pardis, who volunteers as a peer educator for HIV/AIDS prevention in Tehran since 2006, was chosen for her good interpersonal and communication skills and for targeting most at-risk children, youth and women in her peer outreach activities. She was selected from among a group of young people from different parts of Iran who, like her, are involved in peer outreach activities to work towards the prevention of HIV/AIDS. In New York, she joins 19 other young people who represent their home countries at the “A World Fit for Children +5” youth forum organized by UNICEF, Save the Children and the Global Movement for Children.

“The idea to go there is so exciting, to be there and speak, for so many of my friends and those of my age in Iran,” Pardis said when interviewed in advance of her trip. “It feels so good when you know you can do something for your friends, when you know you can make a change.”

Christian Salazar, UNICEF’s Representative in Iran, enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity presented to a young Iranian to speak at the youth forum. “To have been selected to speak at this forum is a great chance for Pardis, but even more so for Iran and its youth. She will be able to convey a different image of the country and speak out on behalf of her country’s young generation, which represents nearly half of Iran’s population.”

The forum is a gathering of under-18-years old aimed at measuring and assessing the world’s progress toward promoting and protecting children’s rights. Participants will in particular discuss the progress made in the implementation of goals set by the “A World Fit for Children” Declaration in 2002 by more than 180 countries.

The roughly 70 young participants at the forum were selected by the Global Movement for Children and UNICEF. They will meet for roundtable debates about issues such as how to promote healthy lives, combat HIV/AIDS, provide quality education and protect children against abuse, exploitation and violence.

These discussions will prepare the young speakers for their active participation at the high-level plenary meeting on 11-13 December, when the UN General Assembly will review the progress made in the implementation of the Declaration. Two youth – one boy and one girl – will be selected from among the participants to address the closing session of the plenary meeting on 13 December.

"A World Fit for Children"

In May 2002, participants at the UN General Assembly's Special Session on Children committed to a set of specific goals for children and youth and a basic framework for meeting these goals. The resulting document, "A World Fit for Children," reviews progress made in the area of children's rights and well-being, and presents a plan of action, including goals and strategies, mechanisms for mobilizing resources, and follow-up actions and assessment. For more information, please visit



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