Half of the world’s population is under the age of 25. Out of the 3 billion people under the age of 25, almost 1.8 billion  are between the ages of 10 and 24.1 Youth make up a staggering portion of earth’s inhabitants.

AIDemocracy partnered with Advocates for Youth and international activists during the 2010 International Youth Speak Out tour. Maxalia (Jamaica) & Kemi (Nigeria) receive news coverage in Western Kentucky.

And yet if you watch the news about current politics, most of today’s leaders are grey haired. Youth are often not involved in decision-making processes, even when those decisions affect them. In cultures around the world youth are taught from a young age to respect our elders. Indeed we should respect our elders, since generally they have experiences and perspectives that may help them offer wisdom we lack. However, this doesn’t mean that we as youth don’t also have voices that should be heard and respected. We as youth have equally important experiences and perspectives that differ from those of our elders. We are coming of age in a world that is much different than the world in which our parents grew up; a world in which knowledge is at our fingertips and conflict or deaths around the world are splashed across our screens as if they had happened down the street. We have an immense capacity for global consciousness, as we can find out almost anything going on anywhere in a matter of seconds, using a device we can fit in our pocket. Our knowledge and awareness help shape us into global citizens with valuable input. Another reason we should be heard is because as youth, we face unique challenges; we have outgrown the category of childhood but yet have not entered adulthood. There is a growing world movement that is recognizing youth as valuable individuals who deserve the power to make decisions about their own lives and laws that affect them. Americans for Informed Democracy is part of that movement.

The importance of youth involvement is reflected in many different areas, which is why AIDemocracy encourages youth involvement in areas ranging from Global Health to Global Peace and Security. We know the incredible power that youth hold in today’s world, and we are helping to unleash it. Young people (people under the age of 25) now make up about 3 billion people, or approximately half the world’s population.  That means that the decisions we make, regarding how we adapt to climate change, what efforts we make to build peaceful bridges between our cultures and nations, and regarding our own health and fertility, will have an incredible impact on the world of tomorrow.

Pathfinder International is leading a campaign called “3 Billion Reasons”, which focuses exactly on why youth are so important, specifically in areas of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Not only is our huge population a potential source of either salvation or devastation for our planet, but we as youth also bear the brunt of many of today’s problems. Youth between the ages of 15 and 24 account for almost half of the world’s new HIV infections.1 Youth are far more vulnerable to dying in childbirth, because of the immaturity of their bodies and lack of access to services. Youth are more likely to suffer violence, because of societal norms that prevent them from reaching out for help.  However, we are not only victims; we are also a force to be reckoned with.

For more reasons why youth are so important, read Pathfinder’s explanation for why they choose youth. You are part of a global movement three billion strong.

13 Billion Reasons. Pathfinder International. http://www.pathfind.org/site/PageServer?pagename=3BR_Home