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Ha Noi: Empowering youth to have a voice in policy

Ha Noi: Empowering youth to have a voice in policy

Ha Noi, 12 October 2017 – With the ever-growing role of youth in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO and UNFPA jointly led a two-day workshop from 11-12 October on strengthening the inclusion of young people within the review of youth policies and frameworks. Based on UNESCO’s toolkit “Developing Evidence-Based, Participatory, Gender Equal and Socially Inclusive Youth Policies in Southeast Asia,” participants identified solutions to strengthen the voice of youth in policy development.

Attending the workshop, more than 25 participants including youth from the Youth Union, National Youth Committee, Civil Society Organizations and representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) and UN Agencies used the UNESCO Toolkit to identify diverse types of youth within Viet Nam and their respective concerns and needs for strengthening the ability of policy to respond to their needs. 

In line with UNESCO’s 2014-2021 Operational Strategy on Youth, the Toolkit presents guidelines and activities for mainstreaming gender equality and social inclusion into national youth policies with a participatory, evidence-based, and inclusive approach.

Considering the context in Viet Nam, participants examined the current state of youth involvement in policy development and review, particularly with regard to Viet Nam’s 2005 Youth Law and 2011-2020 Youth Strategy. Through collaborative group activities, Government Officials and young people exchanged their thoughts and concerns, mapping the gaps and resources needed for the inclusion of different youth populations. 

During the workshop youth participants expressed that despite their active role in leading development projects and campaigns, their contributions can sometimes be left behind, especially those of vulnerable groups. This can be attributed to the lack of exposure and skills for active participation in policy development processes.

To address these issues, MOHA representatives suggested the need for capacity building of youth’s policy-related skills and knowledge. Such competencies would increase the confidence of youth groups in collaborating with government officials and voicing their concerns and ideas. Similarly, the mainstreaming of gender equality and social inclusion was discussed as a process that requires more than simply involving youth in policy formulations. 

Speaking on behalf of the UN Working Group on Adolescents and Youth, Ms Astrid Bant, Representative of UNFPA to Viet Nam, highlighted that “the lack of recognition of the importance of youth empowerment from both policy makers and among youth themselves creates a barrier to the meaningful participation of young people.” With that, Ms Bant, reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to supporting “youth participation in decision-making processes in Viet Nam.”

Susan Vize, UNESCO Regional Adviser for Social and Human Sciences for Asia and the Pacific, introduced UNESCO’s approach and vision towards youth, outlining the dynamic dimensions of youth inclusion through “policy making, civic engagement, capacity building and advocacy.” 

Equipped with the toolkit, youth representatives expressed that they now feel more confident in actively engaging in the development and review of Youth Policy. They aspire to circulate the toolkit in their respective networks and to work towards empowering even more youth in Viet Nam.

In close collaboration with the participants, UNESCO will contextualize the Toolkit to Viet Nam, incorporating participant feedback collected during the workshop and will continue to support MOHA in enabling youth friendly policy development and reviews. 

For more information, please contact Ms Vu Thi Hai Ha, Carlo Schmid Fellow for Youth Programming, at hh.vu-thi(at)unesco.org or visit our Facebook page @UNESCOinVietNam

This article originally appeared on the webpage of the UNESCO Office in Ha Noi