Seoul, South Korea

Since the Korean War, South Korea has emerged as one of the more politically and economically free nations in the world. Home to companies like Samsung and Hyundai, South Korea’s economy has been growing for years. While South Korea has become a model for other countries in southeastern Asia, the country is also facing new challenges that a strong economy alone cannot fix. Here is a list of the top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea.

Top 10 Facts about Living Conditions in South Korea

  1. Life Expectancy: The life expectancy rate is one of the highest in the world. South Koreans, on average, have a life expectancy range that goes into the mid-80s for men and into the 90s for women. This means the country has one of the highest life expectancies in the world, a benefit to having free, universal healthcare coverage. Koreans’ diets consist of steam-cooked rice, vegetables and meat, constituting a healthy meal and contributing to a long and healthy life.
  2. Credit Access: South Korea is among the world’s top countries with high credit card usage. South Koreans averaged almost 130 credit card transactions per person in 2011, according to the Bank of Korea. Additionally, it is illegal for businesses to refuse credit cards, even for smaller purchases. This has created a bustling tourism and shopping industry in South Korea.
  3. High Suicide Rate: The suicide rate in South Korea is among the highest in the world. It is believed that the high suicide rate is due to the long work hours and stress in the workplace. Another factor contributing to these high rates is the level of poverty and loneliness among the elderly. The country has taken preventative measures to combat such a tragic statistic. Korean legislature continues to update and improve the Mental Health Act. The Act for the Prevention of Suicide and the Creation of Culture of Respect for Life went into effect in 2011, which sets forth policies to help prevent suicides.
  4. Youth Unemployment: The country’s economy is strong, but it is slowly declining. With such large companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai in South Korea, many smaller businesses are having trouble cementing themselves into Korean society. These larger companies then offer less than ideal contracts to smaller companies who must accept them or risk going out of business. This is disabling young people’s ability to find jobs with a smaller market of opportunities. More than 11 percent of young people between the ages of 15 and 29 are unable to find jobs. President Moon Jae-in promises to combat the unemployment of young people during his presidency.
  5. Universal Healthcare: South Korea has adopted an affordable, universal healthcare system. It was first introduced in 1989. As mentioned above, this may be a key factor in the increase in life expectancy in South Korea. The country also created plans to help its citizens treat certain forms of dementia. It is projected that the percentage of South Koreans age 65 or older will increase to 40 percent by the year 2060.
  6. Plans to Boost the Economy: South Korea has decreased its infrastructure spending, but is increasing its minimum wage. President Moon has planned to drastically increase South Korea’s spending budget by around $420 billion in 2019. The goal is to increase the number of jobs available and to raise the minimum wage; however, these programs will also create budget cuts for infrastructure spending.
  7. Climate Change: The country is taking action on climate change. In an effort to learn more about climate change, the Korean National Institute of Environmental Research began working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and other organizations in 2016. These organizations have been focusing on monitoring air quality throughout East Asia. Citizens of South Korea are affected by smog and concentrations of particulate matter that lead to respiratory illnesses. South Korean air is twice as polluted as some other countries.
  8. Low Violence Rates: South Korea has low rates of terrorism and violence. South Koreans have great respect for the rule of law, according to data from the World Bank. Citizens also have a great deal of respect for the courts and rules of society. It is possible that the impeachment of former President Park Geun-Hye in 2017 also increased confidence in the South Korean legal system.
  9. Expensive Housing: The already expensive housing prices in South Korea are increasing even more. The nation’s capital, Seoul, is the most expensive city to live in South Korea. It’s twice as expensive to live there than anywhere else in the country. During the past year, housing prices have risen 23 percent in Seoul and 12.5 percent outside of the city. To encourage young people to live in the city, the government offered 70,000 homes to newlyweds in December 2018.
  10. Long Work Weeks: South Koreans work more than the majority of other countries. In 2018, South Korea changed the maximum limit that employees may work from 68 hours to 52 per week. This change was put into effect to improve health conditions and keep laborers from becoming overworked. This bill limited the work week of South Koreans to 40 hours per week with 12 hours of optional overtime at 50 to 100 percent normal pay rate. As the last fact on this list of top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea, it shows South Korea is prioritizing mental health and the well-being of its citizens.

South Korean has made great advancements in the quality of living conditions, but there is still room for improvement. Many younger Koreans believe that President Moon’s policies will lead to more benefits and a fairer society. These top 10 facts about living conditions in South Korea outline a promising future, but making mental health and financial stability a priority is necessary for the country’s citizens.

Jodie Ann Filenius

Photo: Flickr

Youth Unemployment in South Africa Globally, 71 million youths were unemployed in 2017, according to a report by the International Labor Organization. Unemployment in South Africa is particularly high and has been so for decades, with 5.5 million young people currently searching for work. In response to high youth unemployment in South Africa, a social enterprise known as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was created to help connect young people seeking work with employers.

Youth Unemployment in South Africa

With 26.7 percent of the population unemployed, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. With 63 percent of South Africans being under the age of 35, South Africa has a large youth population. The unemployment rate for youths, defined as those aged 15 to 34, was estimated to be 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018. Each year, 1.1 million South African youths enter the labor market, but only 6 percent enter formal employment, and an additional 8 percent are informally employed. The remaining 86 percent are either continuing their education, looking for jobs or becoming discouraged by the system.

High youth unemployment in South Africa is caused by a variety of factors, including high public education drop-out rates, a lack of significant economic growth and the nation’s legacy of apartheid. With many of the poor still living in townships located far away from urban centers, finding work remains difficult. Even if they are qualified for certain positions, they may lack the ability to travel into the city, particularly in the face of inadequate public transportation.

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

Formed in 2011 in Johannesburg, Harambee has been providing services for the youth across the nation and has helped more than 50,000 young South Africans obtain their first job. In order to provide opportunities to youths outside of the city, Harambee hires recruiters who go to the townships and record contact information for young people who are searching for jobs. From there, some youths are given an invitation to come to a Harambee office to discuss their skills and interests. A trained job coach them helps them through the process of creating a CV and preparing for job interviews. Harambee even provides free interview clothes for those unable to access or afford them.

Another way of connecting with job-seeking youth and working to reduce youth unemployment in South Africa is through the application on the Harambee website. On this application, young South Africans indicate their skills and what kinds of work they are interested in, making it easier for Harambee to successfully match them with an employer.

Harambee has partnered with 450 employers, ranging from small businesses to large corporations. Many of these employers are looking to fill entry-level positions, providing opportunities for South African youths without any prior job experience to find gainful employment. When deciding on matches, Harambee considers the needs of the company, as well as the skills of the potential employee and their proximity to the job. Transportation costs must be considered, and if they are too high, workers may go into debt, in spite of being employed.

For those who have the potential to get hired for more rigorous jobs, Harambee provides vocational training for up to eight weeks to prepare applicants for employment. Since many of the youths Harambee works with come from poor backgrounds, they often lack the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the workforce. Harambee does what it can to ensure the young people the organization is working with will be successful in their employment.

Success Stories

One South African youth, 23-year-old Thabo Ngwato, was unemployed and had been having difficulty filling out job applications until his friend recommended Harambee to him. Through Harambee, Ngwato found work at a call center in Johannesburg, allowing him to support his mother and nephew as well as to purchase his first car. Ngwato told Reuters that, thanks to Harambee, “I know how to network, look for employment. The skills are ones I can take anywhere.” Helping with the application process and teaching basic jobs skill is essential in reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Similarly, 29-year-old Oratile Phekoayane was hired as a Webhelp worker after finding Harambee. The services Harambee provided helped her develop interpersonal skills in order to have more confidence in interviews. According to Reuters, Phekoayane stated, “I see myself as a business partner here. I’m looking to grow, maybe join the executive side.” Thanks to Harambee, she was able to gain employment, develop her skills and become successful with the potential for mobility.

Currently, Harambee has a goal of helping at least 10,000 young South Africans find employment each year. By 2022, they want to have matched 500,000 young people with employers, which will require a significant increase in the number of youths they help become employed each year.

Luckily, Harambee is not alone in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president since February 2018, has also been making youth unemployment a priority. Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Services (YES) initiative in 2018 and has been working to convince companies to reinvest 1.5 percent of their profits into providing paid work experience to young South Africans. By encouraging companies to reinvest in the country’s youth, Ramaphosa is acknowledging the important role that young people will play in the future of South Africa.

Harambee’s success and continuous growth indicate that the goal of ending youth unemployment may be attainable. Harambee has already had a significant impact on reducing youth unemployment in South Africa. Furthermore, it has provided a model for other organizations around the world to use to reduce youth unemployment.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

 

Youth Unemployment in South Africa
According to a report of the International Labor Organization, 71 million youth were unemployed in 2017 globally.

In South Africa, youth unemployment is particularly high and has been so for decades, with 5.5 million young people currently searching for work.

In response to high youth unemployment in South Africa, a social enterprise known as Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator was created to help connect young people seeking work with employers.

Formed in 2011 in Johannesburg, Harambee now services youth across the nation and has helped more than 50,000 young South Africans obtain their first job.

The Numbers

With 26.7 percent of the population unemployed, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. The unemployment rate for youths, defined as those aged 15 to 34, is much higher and was estimated to be 38.2 percent in the first quarter of 2018.

South Africa has a large youth population since 63 percent of South Africans are under the age of 35. This fact further increases the impact of youth unemployment on the nation. Over 63 percent of the unemployed population is youth and each year 1.1 million South African youths enter the labor market.

Of this number, only 6 percent enter formal employment, with an additional 8 percent becoming informally employed. The remaining 86 percent either continue their education, look for jobs or become discouraged by the system.

The Reasons for Youth Unemployment

High youth unemployment in South Africa is caused by a variety of factors, including high public education drop-out rates, a lack of significant economic growth and the nation’s legacy of apartheid.

With many of the poor people still living in townships located far away from urban centers, finding work remains difficult. Even if they are qualified for certain positions, they may lack the ability to travel into the city, particularly in the face of inadequate public transportation.

Harambee Work for Youth Unemployment in South Africa

In order to provide opportunities to youths outside the city, Harambee hires recruiters who go to the townships and record contact information for young people who are searching for jobs.

From there, some youths are given an invitation to come to a Harambee office to discuss their skills and interests. A trained job coach then helps them through the process of creating a CV (biography) and preparing for job interviews. Harambee even provides free interview clothes for those unable to afford it.

Harambee has partnered with 450 employers, ranging from small businesses to large corporations. Many of these employers are looking to fill entry-level positions, providing opportunities for South African youths without any prior job experience to become employed.

When deciding on matches between employees and employers, Harambee considers the needs of the company, as well as the skills of the potential employee and their proximity to the job. Transportation costs must be considered, and if they are too high, workers may have to go into debt, in spite of being employed.

As another way of connecting with job-seeking youth in order to reduce youth unemployment in South Africa, Harambee offers an application on their website.

By filling this application, young South Africans indicate their skills and what kinds of work they are interested in, making it easier for Harambee to successfully match them with an employer.

For those who have the potential to get hired for more rigorous jobs, Harambee provides vocational training for up to eight weeks to prepare them for employment.

Since many of the youths, Harambee works with come from poor backgrounds and they often lack needed knowledge and skills, Harambee does what it can to ensure the young people will be successful upon becoming employed.

Harambee Successful Stories

One South African youth, 23-year-old Thabo Ngwato, was unemployed and had little success filling out job applications until his friend recommended Harambee to him.

Through Harambee, Ngwato found work at a call center in Johannesburg, allowing him to support his mother and nephew and purchase his first car. Ngwarto told Reuters that thanks to Harambee he now knows how to network and look for employment, which are the skills he can take anywhere.

Similarly, 29-year-old Oratile Phekoayane was hired as a Web help worker due to Harambee. The services Harambee provided helped her be less nervous in interviews and develop interpersonal skills.

According to Reuters, Phekoayane stated, “I see myself as a business partner here. I’m looking to grow, maybe join the executive side.” Due to Harambee, she was able to gain employment, develop her skills and become successful, with the potential for mobility.

Harambee is not alone in addressing youth unemployment in South Africa, however.

Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president since February 2018, has made youth unemployment a priority. Ramaphosa has worked to convince companies to reinvest 1.5 percent of their profits into providing paid work experience to young South Africans.

Currently, Harambee has a goal of helping at least 10,000 young South Africans find employment each year. By 2022, they want to match 500,000 young people with employers, requiring a significant increase in the number of youths they help become employed each year.

Harambee’s success and continuous growth, however, indicate that this goal may be attainable. And even if it is not achieved, Harambee will still have made a significant impact on reducing youth unemployment in South Africa, providing a model for other organizations in the country.

– Sara Olk

Photo: Flickr

Younger Generation Helps
Felix Finkbeiner, a German 19-year-old, has created a global youth movement, Plant For The Planet, in hopes of saving communities all over the world and eventually building a suitable place for everyone to live. Younger generation helps protect the world with the ambitious Finkbeiner, and they show how little actions can make huge differences for the better.

The Younger Generation Cares About the World

At nine years old, Felix Finkbeiner had the goal of protecting land by increasing the number of trees. Finkbeiner successfully motivated 75,000 children to become climate ambassadors with Plant For The Planet, and over 15 billion saplings have been planted.

Finkbeiner spoke at the United Nations and European Parliament. Due to his hard work, Finkbeiner has gained traction for Plant for the Planet from the World Wildlife Fund. Since 2006, about 15.2 billion trees were planted by individual people, governments and businesses.

The movement’s founder is prepared to reach his goal of helping save the world by being knowledgeable about what matters. Through research, he found that there is enough land in the world to plant 589 billion mature trees harmlessly.

Finkbeiner explains, “We need to plant at least a trillion trees to get 600 billion, since many will not survive. Additionally, we must protect the 170 billion trees in imminent risk of destruction.” Younger generation helps contribute to positive changes in the world following the example of Finkbeiner.

The Positive Impact of Planting More Trees

Plant for the Planet has planted trees in 200 countries including:

  • China with 2,859,664,407 trees planted
  • Mexico with 789,303,868 trees planted
  • Afghanistan with 34,019,233 trees planted
  • Nicaragua with 6,425,810 trees planted

Plant for the Planet bought a 33,359-acre ranch near Cancun, Mexico in 2014 that employs 78 people. The ranch strives to plant ten million trees on the land by 2020 because its land was deforested. 

More Trees, Less Global Issues

The following countries are supportive of planting more trees to help with the reforestation of saving land all over the world: Ethiopia, Niger, Mali many other African countries and Latin American countries. Plant for The Planet has planted more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations and set the goal of planting one trillion trees in the next thirty years, with the Trillion Tree Campaign.

More trees can help solve many global issues by providing a healthier living environment for people. In fact, the planting of one trillion trees can collect an extra ten billion tons of carbon dioxide yearly.

The younger generation helps to make the world a better place by involving themselves in solving global issues. This population knows that there is not much time to stop these global problems from getting worse for their children, so Finkbeiner and the younger generation are taking action-oriented steps to help alleviate global poverty — one tree at a time.

Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

Youth Make a Difference in the Face of PovertyPeople will often live up to the expectations set for them, and leaders of youth the world over understand this simple idea. Too frequently, these expectations do not reach beyond circumstances, and young people entangled in poverty can find little encouragement or direction. However, when given the right support and motivation, youth make a difference beyond the sum of their years or situations.

Mark McCord, former Director of the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center in Nairobi, Kenya, sees the possibilities for those not yet jaded by the world and states that “…Young people can be transformative in their communities and countries.”

Mohamed Arshad Ibrahim, Executive Director of the Youth Peer Education Network in Somalia (Y-PEER), understands this as well. Ibrahim, whose organization targets vulnerable youth who might otherwise join militant groups, says “by discussing issues that affect them, youth come up with solutions.”

Breaking Barriers

These solutions vary as much as the stories of the young people behind them. Youth make a difference in ways that speak to the strength that comes from struggle. For adolescents in Gaza, that struggle is 430,000 strong. With that many young people, initiative and opportunity are and become vital to the development of a region.

Sokaina Girls’ School in Deir al Balah City, in the middle of the Gaza Strip, now has a library because of the initiative of some 40 young women. With $300 in funding from the United Nations’ International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the girls challenged the social attitudes surrounding them, went to the market (for the first time ever) and bought books. With some tables and chairs provided by the Education Ministry, they built shelves from wooden boxes and seats from old tires.

In addition, youth make a difference in the State of Palestine, where UNICEF helps 18,000 disadvantaged adolescents develop through life skills, civic engagement, sports and entrepreneurial initiatives. This library project was part of a larger program that the organization started in 11 schools, involving 1,200 high school students.

The Power of One

Though it has been said that there is strength in numbers, youth make a difference by simply seeing and responding to a need. For Toby Little, a nine-year-old English boy, that need started with a desire to learn more about the world. During his campaign to write to somebody in every country, Toby became empathetic to his new pen-pals.

Soon, Toby found himself working with ShelterBox, a charity focused on providing those in need with aid and essentials, such as:

  • Shelter
  • Tools
  • Stoves and cooking utensils
  • Water purification, and
  • Small gifts for children

A Portrait of Promise

Sometimes, youth need a guiding hand to help those in need. Teacher Amy Hall provided just that when she collaborated with Memory Project, an organization that invites students and art teachers to create portraits of abused or neglected children, in order to make them feel valued.

The students in her class chose to work with Syrian children and orphans, feeling that this population would benefit the most from their assistance. For the children in the refugee camps and orphanages, barely having anything, a portrait became a big deal and a reminder of their worth.

Goals for Peace

Youth make a difference in communities such as one in Brazil, where the country’s Goals for Peace project fights against gender inequality. This admirable group hopes to provide opportunities for the empowerment of young girls. For boys like Taniel (18), and Clibson (15), the chance to help is inspiring. Sometimes, just standing with those who challenge the impediments of progress is doing enough. With violence against women acting as an everyday occurrence, a change in the status quo provides hope for a new direction.

The desire to help cannot be quantified in years, and youth make a difference when given the freedom and reigns to do so.

– Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr


Zambia’s youth have continued to face not only high unemployment rates, but also poor quality education, teenage pregnancies and early marriages. Fackson Shamenda (Zambia’s labour and social security minister) says the country’s young people are critical for development objectives; however, work is being done to increase employment for Zambia’s youth.

Promoting Equality Among Zambia’s Employed Youth

Launched in 2013, Impact Enterprises was Zambia’s first digital outsourcing company with a mission to provide the country’s youth with digital jobs. The company soon found that in group settings, young Zambian women were afraid to share their opinions among male coworkers. In June 2015, Impact Enterprises launched Ladies of Victory and Encouragement (LOVE), a support group for its female employees.

By July 2015, LOVE helped the company’s female employees become more confident in participating amongst male workers. One of the employees, Debra, said that LOVE restored the energy she used to have in secondary school. In January 2016, Dimitri Zakharov (CEO of Impact Enterprises) said the LOVE support group significantly strengthened the company’s employees and services.

Zambia’s Action Plan For Unemployed Youth

In March 2016, Zambia’s government developed an action plan to increase employment for Zambia’s youth. These are some of the action plan’s objectives:

  • Make youth employment a strategic target for developing Zambia’s economy.
  • Rejuvenate the dynamism of the local labour markets by enhancing the quality of Zambia’s graduate programs and students’ skills.
  • Ensure full participation of Zambia’s young men and women in the design and planning of youth-centred interventions.

Jerry Sakala (patron of Zambia’s U.N. Youth Association) said that for strides of addressing unemployed youth to be meaningful, strong and coordinated responses will be required from both Zambia’s stakeholders and its youth. “This multi-sectoral approach will ensure that programmes and activities to empower and create employment opportunities for the youth are mainstreamed across all sectors,” said Sakala.

A Young Zambian Entrepreneur Employs 50 People

For young Zambians who have achieved stable employment, they now work to give back to their fellow unemployed residents. In February 2017, Jessie Chipindo (a young entrepreneur and founder of Zambia’s Dulce & Banana restaurant) employed 50 specialized staff to work for her business. Zambia’s government was greatly pleased with Chipindo’s work. Chipindo thanked the government for creating an environment where the country’s young entrepreneurs could flourish.

Agriculture as a Profitable Investment For Zambia’s Youth

In January 2018, Dr. Kaunda (cofounder of Billionaire Farmer Agric Solutions) said that Zambia’s youth could generate great profit from agricultural work; however, the challenge lies in attracting the youth to this job in the first place.

“We need to change the outdated perception that agriculture is back-breaking, unprofitable work for an old, tired generation,” said Kaunda. Kaunda also says that while agricultural work yields financial benefits, it still requires a firm commitment to hard work.

Establishing a Positive Change

On March 26, 2018, the Innovative Zambian Youths Organization (IZYO) institution planned to an entrepreneurship summit for Zambia’s youth. Joseph Maimba (the institution’s CEO) said this is part of the Zambian government’s effort to close the unemployment gap among the country’s young people. The summit will be begin on April 5, 2018 and focus on helping Zambia’s young entrepreneurs develop new skills.

Zambia’s government sees the potential of its young people to develop the country’s economic standing, and many entities will continue to focus on creating employment for Zambia’s youth

– Rhondjé Singh Tanwar

Photo: Flickr

Success of The Straight Talk Foundation and Irish Aid Bursary Program in UgandaDespite being a much smaller country than the United States, Ireland has contributed much of its resources to help end global poverty through funding for a variety of foreign aid, humanitarian and development assistance projects.

Irish Aid

Irish Aid is the country’s official program that fights against poverty and hunger around the world, and which makes up a key part of Ireland’s foreign policy. According to Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the program helps poorer countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, pursue development while also providing humanitarian assistance.

In 2015, €647.51 million was spent on Irish Aid, which comprised 0.36 percent of Ireland’s gross national product. Irish Aid uses this money for programs related to agriculture, nutrition development, health, HIV education and emergency assistance in times of crisis.

The Straight Talk Foundation

One country that Irish Aid has worked closely with is Uganda, and one of its partners is the Straight Talk Foundation, which began in 1993 as a newspaper funded by UNICEF. Initially, it targeted Ugandans between the ages of 10 and 24 and focused on reproductive health and HIV education. As it continued to develop, the foundation eventually expanded the topics it covered and started to work with adults in the community rather than just the youth, because of the important role adults, teachers and parents have in the lives of children.

Today, the Straight Talk Foundation works with both adults and youth, and provides knowledge and support on topics such as HIV, general life skills, the environment, education, livelihoods and disability needs. The foundation’s mission is to provide reproductive health education to youth, as well as support their general well-being and development, through communication strategies based on evidence, advocacy and various services aimed at a young audience.

Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda

In 2016, the Irish government updated and relaunched the Irish Aid Bursary Program in Uganda as part of its new strategy for foreign aid to the country. The program has been supported by Ireland for 13 years, and was designed to help Ugandan youth located primarily in the Karamoja region of Uganda pursue post-primary level education.

A bursary program is similar to a scholarship in that it is money given by an institution or organization to people specifically so they can attend a school.

Also in 2016, the Straight Talk Foundation took control of the bursary program in Uganda. The program provides 200 scholarships for disadvantaged students in the Karamoja region of the country who seek further education after primary school.

The Irish Embassy to Uganda’s website states that since 2005, 1,750 students have benefited from the bursary program, over half of which are young girls. The program covers the cost of tuition, necessary school supplies, transportation to and from school and HIV education.

Speaking to students at the event dedicated to the relaunch of the bursary program in Uganda, Ireland’s ambassador to the country stated that, “’It is our intention that this Irish government-funded bursary scheme will continue to provide educational opportunities to you and many in your communities, empowering you to achieve your dreams.”

As Ireland continues to fund its bursary program in Uganda and provide other forms of foreign assistance, more young Ugandans will gain access to education, and as a result, the opportunity for better livelihoods and futures.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

empower young leaders
Over the years, international organizations have taken tremendous strides in their universal effort to combat global poverty. In 2015, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Development Goals in an effort to end hunger and promote sustainability. There has been great advancement from countries such as Costa Rica and India, which have both made incredible achievements in meeting specific targets.

Furthermore, companies such as Volvo have also done their part by committing themselves to promoting a clean environment. Public-private partnerships are now becoming more common, as they offer opportunities for countries in the global south, who face immense challenges.

For these reasons amongst others, the U.N. recently launched a new initiative geared towards empowering young leaders in the global south.

Youth for the South

The project is officially known as ‘Scaling Up Southern Solutions for Sustainable Development Through Advanced Youth Leadership,’ or ‘Youth for the South.’ It will offer interactive sessions, on-site and on-the-job training, and distance learning for leaders of developing countries. Furthermore, it will provide an opportunity to younger generations to sit at the table, have their voices heard and come up with innovative solutions towards job creations.

The Global South-South Development Expo 2017 in Antalya, Turkey, delivered this initiative in November 2017, as part of their six-publication launch. The initiative is designed as a partnership between the U.N. Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), among others.

The crux of this project is to empower young leaders “to promote transformational change in their communities and countries, and to identify and adapt successful solutions.” Additionally, one of the major focal points is to enhance leadership development programs that will meaningfully impact the youth population across various sectors.

Part of this process will feature rigorous training by 30 to 60 young leaders selected by UNFPA from six developing countries. The trainees will not only possess the qualifications needed, but they will also maintain a strong personality, as they are most likely to influence their communities when they return.

Their performance will be monitored by representatives and staff of various U.N. agencies.

The Global Stage

The majority of the poverty that exists across the world is in the global south, which is why the development of this project should be effective to create universally meaningful change. This initiative will feature numerous phases tailored to meet the needs of those who lack basic training. The first phase will include agriculture and rural development, social protection, sustainable energy and youth employment.

UNOSSC urged the importance of working with the youth, as some 85 percent of the world’s youth are now residing in the global south. UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Alanna Armitage, emphatically spoke of the advantages that the youth will gain as part of this project launched to empower young leaders.

The initiative will help make important gains “at a personal level, really strengthen young people’s leadership by providing them with the skills and opportunities to build their own personal leadership.”

Improving Global Participation

Despite the strong contribution that developed nations provide in direct foreign assistance towards developing countries, the majority of them still do not meet the U.N.’s expectations. The irony is that countries like Turkey, who do not account for much of the world’s economy, are the second largest of humanitarian donors, spending $6 billion on humanitarian assistance.

One high-level U.N. representative noted that the 2030 agenda’s central promise to leave no one behind will “be elusive if [these] 91 countries … remain at the bottom of the development ladder.”

To empower young leaders is to empower our world. How this initiative will impact countries’ progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals is yet to be determined; however, seeking to assist young leaders from developing nations by allocating the means to allow people to flourish comes at a vital time if we are to eradicate world hunger.

– Alexandre Dumouza

Photo: Flickr

The Political Promise of Young CambodiansUSAID sponsors Next Generation, a televised youth debate in Cambodia. The debate is intended to encourage peaceful political discussion among young Cambodians in a country that values “saving face” and non-confrontation.

These practices are extremely harmful to productive political discussion. Next Generation aims to mitigate the consequences of these social constructs by inspiring young people in Cambodia to engage in debates.

The weekly TV show hosts 24 young adults for a 30-minute debate on issues such as poverty, the electoral system, Facebook censorship and gender quotas. The program hopes to foster a culture of constructive political discussion among the future leaders of Cambodia.

24-year-old Linda Eang won the debate in 2014. She had been a shy child, and her family tried to discourage her from pursuing politics, since being a politician can be dangerous in Cambodia. After learning in school about the state of poverty and healthcare in Cambodia, Eang decided that she wanted to be part of the solution, despite the vast challenges of the field.

After graduating from university, Eang decided she wanted to focus on coaching other young Cambodians. She expressed that “the greatest barriers for young people in Cambodia are the lack of trust and motivation from the environment around us” and that Cambodians “are taught to be followers”.

Eang believes that young people can become more empowered and bring positive change to their country by getting an education. She aims to coach young people to eloquently express themselves and to have self-confidence.

Another forum for the empowerment of young people in Cambodia is Politikoffee, a community that meets weekly to discuss politics and drink coffee. The meetings started with Channy Chheng and three friends who enjoyed drinking coffee and discussing topics like policy, economics, education and agriculture.

The group decided that their conversations would benefit from more people bringing additional knowledge to their discussions, so they started Politikoffee as a platform for Cambodians to engage in political debates, free from restrictive cultural norms. Productive political argumentation is counter to traditional Khmer culture, which encourages respect for elders and the status quo.

For member Chea Veasner, these open and honest conversations are something she cannot have at her university. Veasner notes that many of her Cambodian friends do not like to argue and will not voice their opinions when given the chance.

Politikoffee provides a safe environment for Cambodia’s young, ambitious people to discuss ideas rarely discussed elsewhere. Despite assumptions that young Cambodians are not interested in politics, many actually are passionate about politics because social injustice is blatant.

Opportunities like Next Generation and Politikoffee allow Cambodia’s youths to overcome restrictive cultural norms and are fueling future political change. According to a Politikoffee’s social media representative, “Youth, from my experience, all have a vision of what their Cambodia should be, and for the vast majority of them, it’s a Cambodia that is very different from their parents.”

Kristen Nixon
Photo: Flickr

Supporting Global EducationThe global youth unemployment rate is a concern, especially for global business leaders and nonprofits that advocate for lowering the poverty rate. As of 2016, there were 71 million unemployed people between the ages of 15 and 24, according to the International Labor Union (ILU). There are many ways to fix this problem, but one way to help unemployed youth in developing countries is by supporting global education.

This is a problem that affects all the countries of the world, but is especially hard on youths in developing countries. The increased number of unemployed youths in developing regions such as the Caribbean, Latin America and Western Asia had a great impact on the overall increase of the global youth unemployment rate, while numbers of youth unemployment rate in developed countries stayed about the same. Additionally, many jobs that youths can get in developing countries are low-paying jobs. The ILU estimates that 38 percent of working youths are living in extreme poverty (less than $3.10 a day).

Supporting global education is an investment in the youths of developing countries. With an education, the younger generation can learn the skills they needed to get higher paying jobs. A report conducted by the International Commission for Financing Global Education Opportunities found that 40 percent of employers worldwide had difficulty finding people with the required skills for their job openings. By investing in global education, more people can enter the workforce with in-demand skills and find more opportunities. In the long run, this enables the economy to grow and helps the country develop.

One organization supporting global education is Global Partnership for Education (GPE). GPE focuses on developing countries and brings together teacher organizations, private foundations and international organizations in order to strengthen educational systems. GPE’s goal is to make inclusive education accessible to everyone by the year 2030.

GPE is just one organization that is focusing on education to lower the unemployment rate of youths. If students in developing countries can access and gain the skills they need for jobs, the poverty rate for those developing countries will improve.

Deanna Wetmore

Photo: Flickr