Advocacy for Youth Rights
Can Young People have Rights?
Youth are considered as people with duties, responsibilities, privileges but can we imagine them as people with rights?
Do we realize that young people struggle with multiple forms of deprivation in and oppression from society too? Their age, packed with great potential and vigor, can also make them greatly vulnerable. They are constantly reminded of their duties and responsibilities. With families stressing on young people’s obligations, colleges focusing on academic grades, and the state perceiving youth as beneficiaries of “youth services”, it is uniquely important for us to raise the notion of young people being entitled to rights. Over the years, our dialogues with young people have convinced us that many of their issues arise because of this refusal of society and state to recognize this. We believe that youthhood is a phase when youth need maximum affirmation, support and respect for their autonomy.
Towards a Youth Rights Charter
With some trepidation, we organised a youth rights parliament in 2010 and followed it up with various consultations on youth rights.
Drawing on constitutional principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a Charter of Youth Rights has since been prepared by Samvada in dialogue with young people, human rights advocates and youth workers.
Over the next few years, we will be working continuously for state recognition of the Charter.
We look forward to your solidarity and support!
As a part of the leadership development process, youth-led campaigns have been supported by the Yuva Samvada Kendras. These have stressed on a variety of youth rights: the right to have a discrimination-free and democratic campus, right to have protection and redressal from sexual harassment, the right to decide when to marry and the right to make informed career choices.
Since 2013, public hearings on youth rights have been held by Samvada each year. The public hearing in 2016 focussed on young peoples right to decide when to marry and the public hearing in 2017 focussed on career guidance as a right of young people.
While many of these campaigns are frowned upon by family and community leaders who see such assertions of autonomy as a destabilizing threat, others from all walks of life have come forward to encourage and support young people in this endeavour.