Young people in Baitadi have called for their full and effective participation in decision-making in order to contribute to the future development agenda in this Far Western district of Nepal.
Such a call came during the district's first Youth Conference which was attended by around 200 young people from all 56 VDCs and two municipalities as well as members of adolescent girl circles. The conference was organized by the District Development Committee (DDC) from December 10-11 with technical and financial support of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. The UN agency has been partnering with DDCs in 18 districts, including Baitadi, to promote youth participation in the decisions that affect them, strengthen their ability to advance human rights and development issues such as health, education and employment.
"The conference was organized to highlight that the needs of youth are a priority issue as enshrined in key national and international documents such as the new Youth Policy of Nepal, the National Plan of Action for the Holistic Development of Adolescents and the recently endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," says Bikram Bahadur Chand, Senior Programme Officer at the DDC.
Representatives of government and non-governmental agencies as well as leaders of political parties invited as observers in the conference noted the importance of promoting youth participation in the local level planning and decision-making process. Parliamentarian from Baitadi Nar Bahadur Chand, speaking during the inaugural session of the conference, hailed some of the efforts made by young people in the district, especially the ongoing advocacy for their participation in development planning, and for attainment of their rights.
Local Development Officer Khem Raj Bista, also addressing the conference, said that the DDC will do its part to promote youth empowerment. He said that the local authority is also thinking of organizing similar gatherings in other villages of Baitadi in collaboration with UNFPA.
The conference selected 31 new members, including 15 females, to be part in the District Youth Network. UNFPA has long supported youth networks and adolescent girl circles - groups of young people who receive training and support to become involved in local planning, and to promote health, human rights and end harmful practices in their communities. The gathering culminated in a 10-point declaration which was seen as a first positive step:
- Form youth networks in every Ward, VDC and Municipality.
- Mobilize youth networks to end the existing harmful practices such as child marriage, Chhaupadi, open defecation, gender-based violence.
- Ensure youth participation in the ongoing district-level campaigns aimed at making VDCs free from child marriage, full institutional delivery, model healthy village, open defecation free etc.
- Take initiatives to establish a district youth employment promotion center, technical school.
- Take initiatives to ensure youth participation in every development work and decision-making process in the local level.
- Identify vulnerable young people and take initiatives to provide them with life-skill training.
- Mobilize youth to protect and promote the culture and arts of Baitadi.
- Take initiatives to form a mechanism that can provide proper counseling to youth who are going abroad for employment.
- Mobilize youth in rescue and relief work during natural disasters and emergencies.
- Take initiatives to run employment programmes targeting women and girls.