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Nov 21, 2014

UNFPA Workshop Showcases Youth Issues

The power of one point eight billion….that’s the global population of youths under the age of twenty-five years.  The United Nations Population Fund believes that young people have the power in their hands to foster development and curb poverty. This morning, the UN agency launched the State of the World Population Report which that young people are facing more and more challenges. As it relates to Belize, they represent twenty percent of the populace; but are the youths getting the opportunities to bring about positive change? News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The power of one point eight billion, the collective influence of youths across the world, is an undeniable force to be reckoned with.  After all, young people are the future.  In the realm of adult concerns however, youth issues are often glossed over altogether, jeopardizing economies and societies in general.


Herman Longsworth

Herman Longsworth, Minister of Youth

“Our young people, the young people of today must be able to assume the responsibility for the running of our businesses, our military, our police schools or governments whether local or national, they must also be and become our diplomats, those people who go out there and sell Belize to the world, who ensure that people know what Belize is, that people want to participate in what Belize is doing so we can continue to grow.”


Over half a billion youths struggle to make it through each day with only two dollars in their pockets, a degree of hardship that few will ever make it out from.  That overall effect can be tremendous if young people are given the opportunity to develop their capabilities, including access to education and health.


Erika Goldson

Erika Goldson, Assistant Representative, UNFPA

“We need to start to increase our efforts in creating this educational opportunity outside of the formal school system and a lot of that was brought up in the discussion yesterday with the media personnel that were present in our meeting yesterday that we seem to be losing our momentum as a country.  I know that the minister mentioned the efforts that the Department of Youth Services is undertaking, particularly in the area of sexual and reproductive health and I want to applaud them for that in transitioning the unit from just an HIV unit to an SRH unit which is very key because HIV is just one component of reproductive health that an individual has to be concerned about.”


Of equal concern is the media’s role in covering matters relating to young people.  In Belize, the media is being taken to task for the content of its broadcast, primarily during the news.


Tisa Grant, Ministry of Health

Tisa Grant

“We must not only see the media as preaching to the young people or giving education to the young people or highlighting what UNFPA is doing or what Ministry of Health is doing, but also to put the information out there and to hold the entire country responsible.  So whenever you’re reporting something bad happening to a young person or a young person participating in something good, the media must present in such a way that the general public knows that if something bad has happened to a young person this information is not for you to now sit at home and point fingers and say “young people these days and so on.”  It has to be worded in such a way for them to understand that the reason this thing is happening to that young person is because of all of us, we are not contributing like we should.  And also, when they succeed we must celebrate with them.”


The needs, aspirations and potentials of young people need to be squarely in the center of the global sustainable development agenda, as well as the Millennium Development Goals; particularly, the need to end poverty, achieving sound health and education. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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