Youth - young people aged 15 to 24 -- make up nearly one-third of the world's population. Youth are directly affected by social, economic and political developments around the world. But in many countries, youth are not allowed to be involved in the decisions that shape their societies.
The United Nations declared 1985 as International Youth Year to highlight the important role that youth play in our world and their great potential to help make the world a better place.
Ten years later, the United Nations adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, an international strategy designed to address many of the problems youth around the world face, and to help increase their opportunities to participate in the life of their societies. This blueprint for action covers ten important areas: education, employment, hunger, poverty, the environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure-time activities, girls and young women, and the full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making.
The United Nations declared August 12 International Youth Day, as an annual opportunity to raise awareness about the important contribution youth make and to highlight the goals of the World Programme of Action.
"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies."
-- Kofi Annan