BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
HONIARA celebrated the International Youth Day under theme: Safe Spaces for Youth in a small scale yesterday.
This year’s theme signified the need for youth’s safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves.
Yesterday, the Youth, Sports and Women Division of the Honiara City Council celebrated the International Youth Day in a smaller scale particularly in training and workshop.
HCC Youth Development Officer Mrs Mary Tuhaika said young people in Honiara celebrate the International Youth Day yesterday with a discussion about mental health with the Child Fund New Zealand.
She said this activity is part of celebrating the International Youth Day as it was celebrated globally yesterday.
Tuhaika said this is a small event, but bigger one is scheduled for September this year which will be during the Honiara Youth Week.
While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth.
Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues.
Public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community.
Digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalization or violence.
Ensuring that safe spaces are inclusive, youth from diverse backgrounds especially those from outside the local community, need to be assured of respect and self-worth.
According to the United Nation, in humanitarian or conflict prone settings for example, youth may lack the space to fully express them without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome.
UN also adds similarly, without the existence of safe space, youth from different race or ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community.
When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion, the UN said.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 11, emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization.
Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces for youth to enable them to interact with family and have constructive inter-generational dialogue.
Additionally, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) which is the UN framework for youth development prioritizes the provision of “leisure activities” as essential to the psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people.
As more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters and the availability and accessibility of safe spaces becomes even more crucial to make this a reality.