Frédéric Soltan

Closing the Youth Apathy Gap

When the UN's member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals two years ago, they committed to reduce substantially “the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training.” That commitment will be virtually impossible to fulfill, unless political participation by young people increases considerably.

NAIROBI – When the United Nations’ member countries adopted the Sustainable Development Goals two years ago, they committed themselves to reduce substantially “the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training.” That commitment will be virtually impossible to fulfill, unless political participation by young people increases considerably.

Young people are critical to progress. As US President Barack Obama put it in a 2015 speech in Nairobi, “no country can achieve its full potential unless it draws on the talents of all its people.” And youth now comprise a large share of those people – 18% of the world’s population, to be precise. The share is even larger in much of the developing world. The median age of Africa’s population is just 19.5 years.

Given their numbers, not to mention rising education and literacy rates, young people can make a world of difference, shaping political discourse and electoral outcomes. But that requires them to be engaged and active.

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