Chairperson, excellences, distinguished delegates,
It is an honour for me to take part in this discussion as the UN youth delegate of Finland.
I’m going to begin this speech by addressing a crucial group of people to be taken into account if we want to eradicate poverty to achieve sustainable development for all. This group of people is the world’s largest, possessing the least power and facing many challenges in economic engagement. This is also a group whose access to education and economic opportunities has a dramatic impact on durable peace and reconciliation. I am of course referring to young people.
Currently, more than half of the world’s population is below the age of thirty. However, globally, less than 6% of the parliamentarians are under 35 years old and in 2014, the global youth unemployment rate was 13 per cent—nearly three times the adult rate. There is no specific sustainable development goal that addresses the youth in particular, as the youth is a cross cutting theme that should be taken into account throughout the implementation of the agenda and every single goal.
In December 2015, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2250 on Youth, peace and security. The resolution urges Member States to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. Furthermore, the resolution underlines the importance of recognizing young people not as victims but as positive drivers of change. In order to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda, young people need to be heard and they need to get the space to actively participate in decision-making in society. Finland has made much progress on youth participation, for example, by introducing Youth Councils in the Finnish Local Government Act in 2015 and by reforming the Youth Act to promote young people’s social inclusion and opportunities for exerting an influence.
Especially women and young women must be at the core if we want to achieve sustainable development for all. The goal number 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls - is of utmost importance in all corners of the world. May I just refer to a few examples: Labour market prospects continue to be less favourable for young women than for young men virtually everywhere. Today, still too many women and girls don’t have the right to decide over (what to do with) their bodies. The autonomy and self-determination of women and girls must be enhanced. Women and girls have the right to participate fully and make decisions that concern themselves. In addition, it is important that women and girls actively can contribute to and are included in political decision-making and economic activities in all spheres of society.
Too often women's and girls’ access to technology is limited by the societies, communities and families in which they live. Too often it is men who control technology. We must enable girls to access technology and to take part in the digital environment we live in. A good example on engaging all on tech education is Finland introducing computer programming to its comprehensive school core curriculum. Now all children from primary school onwards will learn the basic principles of programming as a part of the basic education. Furthermore, every one of us suffers from gender stereotypes. I’m having a hard time when aspiring to take up leadership positions and my male friends are not encouraged to show their feelings. Transforming the normative gender roles and relations is crucial if we want to achieve a sustainable future.
The changing dynamics of work and employability are facing us all. If we fail to provide decent access to jobs for everyone, we fail in eradicating poverty. We must focus on providing youth with employment opportunities and access to vocational training. In addition, we need new ways to tackle the changing dynamics of working life. Finland, for example, is addressing this challenge by running the Basic Income Experiment, which tries to find ways to adapt the social security system to address the changing nature of work and to promote active participation and stronger incentive to work. Finally, if we want to achieve full and productive employment and decent work for everyone, we cannot underestimate the importance of quality education. It is the crucial prerequisite for eradicating poverty and providing employment for all.
We have achieved a lot. The world has made tremendous progress in combating poverty. However, this year more than ever we believe in the importance of having a common goal. The youth has the highest stake in the sustainability of development. We all have the right to have a better future. The 2030 Agenda is ours and for us to implement and to make the changes needed. Young people must be heard and fully included in this journey.
Thank you, Chairperson.