Is it just me…. Or are “grown-ups” finally realizing how important and valid youth voices are? Everywhere I go- at meetings, listening to speeches, attending coalition meetings—everyone wants to involve youth.  As if we have a new power in the world. Maybe they are really getting it. Perhaps they are accepting that it is also our world and realizing that all of the global challenges that they are trying to tackle cannot be solved without us. After all there are 3 billion of us under the age of 25 who make up half of the world’s population.

Here are some reasons UNFPA Executive Director, Thoraya Ahmed Obaid shared as to why she feels youth are essential during the launching of the International Year of Youth a couple weeks ago:

“Young people are among the most affected by the key development challenges of our time, but are also at the forefront of developing innovative solutions to these problems.”

“Their open-mindedness, mobility and affinity to information and communication technologies transcend geographical boundaries. Youth can be a bridge between cultures and can serve as key agents in promoting peace and dialogue. We stand to learn and to benefit from their energy and creativity.”

“Today, as we celebrate the launch of the International Year of Youth, the world’s largest youth generation ever is searching for opportunities to pursue and fulfill their dreams. They are approaching adulthood in a world our generation could not have imagined, and with their own leadership, supported by the older generation, they can shape the world to ensure sustainable development for the present and future generations.”

“We call on the international community to join our efforts and to recognize the central role that young people play in the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals and the attainment of peace and security.”

“So ‘get up and shake’ for youth as the leaders of today and the makers of tomorrow.”

Read her entire statement here.