Youth inclusion is key
Youth with disabilities are amongst the most marginalized and poorest of the world’s youth population. Compared to youth without disabilities, those with a disability face a greater chance of experiencing severe economic or social disparities. Youth with disabilities are faced daily with the fear of discrimination, abuse, lack of education, and missing opportunities that should be there for them.
Youth represents the seeds we grow and sow. They are our past, present, and future in many ways. As such, we wish the best for them. Unfortunately, much like seeds, youth are also in a vulnerable stage in life. Disability can be particularly tough on youth as it hits them in a developmental stage that can restrict their ability to grow, learn, engage, and thrive and these restrictions have the possibility of having lifelong consequences.
There are many causes and consequences of global challenges such as poverty, inequality, and violence. For instance, mental health is no exception to this rule of simultaneous cause and effect; disability can cause mental health issues, and mental health issues can also cause disability. There are predictions that depression will be the single largest contributor to the global burden of disease by 2030. Suicide is already one of the leading causes of death in youth – more so in the Global South than in the North. I mention mental health as an example, but disability spans over a much broader spectrum, each with its challenges and possibilities.
To combat the negative impact disability can have on personal, societal, and economic values, we argue for thorough preparation before the summit. We wish to gather data and insights on disability among youth, as well as map out a contact network of potential partners to strengthen our effort for change. Our efforts at the summit will be based on a sound and solid case, to present the necessity of youth advocacy and accountability. We strive with our efforts at the summit for commitments and plans that can be (objectively) monitored in the future, by for example defining policies and programs that can be analyzed and influenced. Not least do we strive for accountability and engagement from our partners after the summit.
To achieve this, the inclusion of youth is imperative, youth will be at the forefront of this conversation. Youth can harbor an enormous source of energy and potential. Not only can they be the source of much joy and wellbeing for many, but youth can also represent a strong drive, a fresh look, or a key advocate for positive change. Especially lasting change.
They are therefore an ally we can’t go without which makes advocacy so important. A lot of people, including youth, have guaranteed positive changes already, but more action is needed to meet the needs of the global population and youth will be a vital partner in our future efforts.