The COVID-19 pandemic struck the world in 2020, and it was the vulnerable people and the minorities who especially bore the brunt of the crisis. Also, youth across the globe not only lost their loved ones to COVID-19, but also their jobs to make ends meet, and up to 90% were deprived of the opportunities to learn as schools stopped. Portions of them had to suffer discrimination and violence in homes and societies with no work or schools open, and some spiraled down to depression and helplessness.
Amid the public health crisis, the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) strived for the better future of the youth in the post-pandemic era through the vision, “For youth to protect themselves from threats around the world.” Their efforts include having the “Together We Can Do It Challenge” Campaign, human rights webinars, and the Youth Empowerment Peace Workshops (YEPW) to strengthen cooperation and coalition of youth worldwide.
Expressing Youth’s Love of Humanity – “Together We Can Do It Challenge” Campaign
Against the backdrop where COVID-19 brought about not only illnesses but also isolation and hatred, the IPYG took the initiative to start a “Together We Can Do It Challenge” Campaign to convey the message of comfort to the struggling youth in different parts of the globe. The messages comforting and encouraging youth to overcome the crisis together reached various corners of the world, and as of today, the young adults in over 22 countries in five different continents are sending and receiving the messages of trust and support.
For Youth to Protect Themselves from Threats Around the World – Human Rights Webinar
Celebrating the International Youth Day on 29 August 2020, youth leaders from seven countries (Czech Republic, France, Germany, Madagascar, Mali, South Korea, and Tunisia) convened at a webinar. At the online event held with the theme, “COVID-19 and Human Rights Infringement,” the leaders from varying countries shared cases of human rights violation that youth, women, immigrants, and homeless people have suffered amid the pandemic, and discussed ways young adults can play in resolving the issues at hand.
Samantha Lovius, the vice president of the SOA Association in France, pointed out how unprotected the minorities and the vulnerable people are against the novel coronavirus and how much they are discriminated against in terms of accessing services provided within the society by stating that, “Racialized people and marginalized groups such as migrants, homeless or undocumented migrants are more exposed to the virus and have more difficult access to health care due to their socio-economic status, exclusion, and entrenched and structural racism.”
Secretary-General Amal Trabelsi of JAC Mannouba in Tunisia explained the violence women face in the current crisis and emphasized the role of youth in preventing the human rights infringement by saying, “We need a global watchdog or police to curb corruption and end these human rights violations. And I believe the peace initiative would be significant initiatives if we do collaborate.”
In addition to the endeavors explained above, youth leaders also shared stories of different countries and promised collaboration as well as shared response.
Roles of the Youth in Shaping the Future of Peace – Youth Empowerment Peace Workshop (YEPW)
The IPYG built a platform for the world’s youth to gather and have discussions on preparing for the days after the pandemic called the Youth Empowerment Peace Workshop (YEPW). At the workshop, youth leaders around the world shared the current status on issues each country faces and discussed ideas for resolution and ways to promote international cooperation under the theme, “What Should Youth Do for a Peaceful Tomorrow?” Through the passionate discussion for peace transcending national borders, the leaders showed their commitment for the youth to be the foundation for creating a better and peaceful world.
The executive secretary of the National Federation of Youth Organizations in Bangladesh (NFYOB), Md. Ashikur Rahman, highlighted the role of youth in overcoming the pandemic with the comment, “It’s a great feeling that youth organizations have played a superb role during COVID-19. For instance; raising fund, distributing food, medicine and necessary supplies to needy people, assisting in burial/funeral and so on. I am afraid, our war is not over…. We still need each other to tackle the second wave of COVID-19 and post-pandemic challenges. Let’s overcome together!”
Since July 2020, the YEPW has been held on different continents. In the case of youth from Europe and America, they are mainly focused on discussing and devising plans against the issues of domestic violence and cyber violence, which have been exacerbated since the onset of COVID-19, and the youth from Africa, Asia, and Oceania are examining the problem and the resolution to the situation where the young people are unable to receive education due to the pandemic.
The concerted efforts and the coalition of youth to build peace around the globe are enabling us to find hope for tomorrow.