Young people needed for Covid recovery, UAE minister of state tells UN

Shamma Al Mazrui says every government board needs a staffer aged under 30

Covid-19 has affected young people around the world, in particular.  Getty Images/AFP 
Covid-19 has affected young people around the world, in particular.  Getty Images/AFP 

Governments should listen more to young people and hire more staff under age 30 as they pull their economies out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE Minister of State for Youth, Shamma Al Mazrui, told the UN on Wednesday.

Ms Al Mazrui told a UN forum that the “best sequel” to a pandemic that has claimed 2.9 million lives globally and upended economies would be a world where “youths are the authors and co-authors of the future”.

The UN says young people have been badly hit by the Covid-19, with disruption to the education of about 1.5 billion students and pupils, including millions of girls who are not likely to return to classrooms when the outbreak has abated.

“What would the world look like with youths leading equally alongside other leaders?" Ms Al Mazrui asked.

"What would a world look like with youths building back together better, with more awareness and with the energy to sustain it?

“So far, for us, this looks like passing laws that require a young person under 30 on every federal board. The UAE has done that.

"Creating federal, state and local youth councils for youths to routinely advise every decision-maker on their ideas, needs and challenges.”

She was speaking before the UN’s annual Youth Forum, which is aimed at amplifying the voices of the world’s 1.8 billion young people so that leaders of its 193 member nations can craft better policies for the often-overlooked group.

“I invite every nation to develop lasting sustainable seats at the table for youths and maintain ongoing dialogue between young people and decision-makers from all walks,” Ms Al Mazrui said.

Other speakers at the virtual event included UN youth envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake, President of the General Assembly Volkan Bozkir and Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Mr Guterres said that the world's young people were too often sidelined by “paternalistic attitudes” and had been “expressing their impatience” over poor leadership and slow progress on climate change.

“We need meaningful opportunities for youth engagement in governance systems, in democratic processes, in peacebuilding and peace negotiations,” he said.

“Most of all, we need results – tangible improvements in areas such as education, employment, gender equality, environmental protection and digital connectivity – through a just, inclusive, green and sustainable recovery.”

Updated: April 8, 2021 02:02 AM

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