Advocating for Change: The YMCA Letter to United Nations

Date: 15 May 2011

The civil society were requested to send inputs to the outcome document of the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth witch will take place in New York, USA, 25th and 26th of July.

The letter reflects the priorities of the World Alliance of YMCAs around the theme of the International Year of Youth: “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”.

All National YMCA Movements are invited to join this advocacy effort by approaching countries missions based in NY and your national governments with this letter. To join this initiative, please contact Romulo Dantas

Letter sent on May 15th, 2011 to:
H.E. Joseph Deiss, Office of the President of the 65th Session of the General Assembly, United Nations, New York, NY

Your Excellency,

It is our honor to address this letter to the 65th Session of The General Assembly of the United Nations for the occasion of the United Nations High Level Meeting on Youth.

We deeply celebrate the initiative of the United Nations in favor of the young people of the world. This was an opportunity for deep reflections and actions to once more capture the attention of the global community for the importance of the youth agenda in order to advance building a world with justice and love for everybody.

It is time to think ahead of our times and start to project a new future where our society is not longer divided in north and south, rich and poor, faith and non and many other divisions that brings suffer and pain to the humanity but specially to the young people in millions of communities worldwide.

It is time, more than ever to invest in preparing young people to act under the mindset of global citizens and to understand the interconnectedness of our new world. It is time to guarantee empowerment of the younger population in order to cultivate freedom and peace to the humankind.

The YMCA Movement is contributing to this process being an open channel for genuine youth empowerment in many levels. We would like to see the young people of the world playing a similar role in the strategic directions of the human community as a way to build a batter future to all. Youth Empowerment is in the forefront of our agendas and we can certainly contribute by sharing the accumulated knowledge built in the 14,000 communities where we work today.

It is necessary to provide training for the young leaders who will be capable to lead and implement the changes we want to see. It is urgent to support and invest in creative solutions to guarantee dignity to young people in the shape of JOBS, HEALTH and CIVIC ENGAGEMENT.

To provide JOBS, it is vital to invest in preparing the young generation for entrepreneurship; it is vital to create conditions for self-employment, creativity and innovation. We cannot only depend of the creation of regular jobs to place people in the labor market. Entrepreneurship has potential to change the way the wealth is distributed in the global context. Entrepreneurship can grow much more if the public and private sector are capable to provide credit, technical assistance and less bureaucracy.

To promote HEALTH it is imperative to involve young people in finding new approaches for prevention and education for health. HIV and Aids still and need to be in the center of the attention of the international community for the upcoming years as well all the other elements involving it, especially the ones connected to sexist behavior of men. It is time to face and transform masculinity.

The regular physical activities still need to be broadly cultivated among young people in order to prevent diseases to guarantee quality in longevity but also to reduce the cost of health treatments and the heavy expenses of governments to redirect attention to other important priorities. The partnership with the organized civil society is key. We know how to do that.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT of the young people is one of the most effective ways to build a democratic global society and guarantee sustainable peace. It is the way to give voice to the voiceless and to do it; the international community needs to invest in projects in the grassroots of the communities. Financial resources need to be expanded and, again, the partnership with the organized civil society is key. It’s broadly recognized that organizations of civil society can better manage resources in order to provide quality assistance, but in many countries the non-governmental organizations with focus on youth find a hostile environment to run its activities and some are obligated to act clandestinely to continue serving young people in need. We claim the international community to pay special attention in Asia, Africa, Middle East and even in Europe where the hands of dictatorships still oppressing people in many ways.

The bases for those changes are already established and the United Nations World Programme of Action for Youth needs to be constantly revised and deepened in the United Nations System.

It is also part of our concerns to invest in discovering how technology could play an important role in the areas mentioned helping the process of advancement of the youth. We believe in innovative ways to empower young people worldwide and we call for attention and investment of the international community in the better use the different technologies available in order to create effective ways of inclusion. The broad access of the young people to information technology tools is vital to assure channels of expression and democratic participation.

There is nothing about us without us. This is the biggest expression of how the young people of our organization want to be legitimated as part of a global society. This is the claim of young people committed to work for a better world. It is a claim for an effective intergenerational dialogue.

We do not want be youth and adults in different sides, we do not want to be “us” and “them”. We want to be partners; we want to work together, each in its talents, potentials and limitations. The young people want to be a global partner of choice to advance humanity.