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Statement by UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem, International Youth Day

As we mark International Youth Day in the midst of a global pandemic, we witness how young people are taking action to solve problems in their communities.

Young people have been frontline responders to the COVID-19 pandemic, mobilizing across the world. They are health workers, activists, innovators, and social and community workers.

To reach and engage young people during this pandemic, we must share information, clarify misinformation, and we must equip them to take action to contain the spread of the virus. We must validate the leadership of young people and uphold their human rights.

UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, listens to the voices of young people and supports their meaningful participation in decisions that affect them.

Last week, UNFPA spearheaded a global #YouthAgainstCOVID19 conversation. Young people everywhere are encouraged to upload videos that highlight their actions to combat the pandemic and to share lessons about how they are charting new paths forward for their communities.

Among the devastating effects of the pandemic, the loss of opportunities for employment, education and access to essential services, including sexual and reproductive health services, means that many young people are facing infringement of their rights and choices. Young women and girls are particularly vulnerable.

As the world seeks to build back better, we must ensure that young people are prioritized in order to have access to the education, tools, and services necessary for them to reach their full potential.

Today, let’s join hands across generations. Let’s come together and rise to the challenges before us, working with youth to build a more inclusive, sustainable future for all.