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Indigenous youth make their voices heard at global caucus

© UNICEF/2008/Gallegos
Moni Sulemani, 16, an exile from Baluchistan, says the young people at the Indigenous Youth Caucus discovered that many of their struggles were similar.

By Moni Sulemani

NEW YORK, USA, 2 June 2008 – At the seventh session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held in New York in April, the youngest generation of indigenous people from around the world came together as one body to highlight the problems they face. 

That body – the Indigenous Youth Caucus – comprises young people from various states, organisations, and socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.  They dedicated each of the UN forum’s 14 days to discussions of various issues of concern to indigenous youths.

The discussions led to the collective development of a statement that was presented to the general forum. The statement addressed the environment and climate change, indigenous languages, human rights and other concerns of children and young people.

‘A space to speak for ourselves’

Despite cultural, geographic and language differences, the youths in the group had a great understanding of each other’s problems. They discovered that many of their struggles were similar – all involving the sense of discrimination based on identity, the marginalisation of cultures and the feeling of oppression due to one’s heritage.

The caucus made a start on building bridges between young indigenous people around the word. Youths need to be represented and heard in the international community. They are not just the leaders of tomorrow but also the leaders of today.

As one participant in the conference, Alancai Morales, 16, from the Brunca people in Costa Rica, put it: “We're capable enough to speak for ourselves; we don't need adults speaking on behalf of young people.  So we should have a space to speak for ourselves, right?”

Moni Sulemani, 16, participated in the Indigenous Youth Caucus.






Three participants in the Indigenous Youth Caucus speak to UNICEF Radio. Produced by Lucia Rovi.
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