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Youth Rights Advocacy

Youth are often considered as having duties, responsibilities, potential, and privileges, but can we also consider them as having rights?

What are Youth Rights?

Youth rights are essentially Human Rights that recognise youth-hood as a unique stage in Human life. The Human Right to life, to freedom, to equality and livelihood need to be contextualised for young people.

Why do Youth need Rights?​

Young people struggle with multiple forms of deprivation and oppression from society. Their age, packed with great potential and vigor, can also make them greatly vulnerable.

  • They are often forced into jobs in which they have little or no say. Employers exploit the weakness of youth to accept jobs on terms that leave little time for rest or leisure. Young people are often forced to accept jobs at wages that are extremely low, or in some cases, in exchange for feeding habits like alcohol.
  • Young people are often denied important information about their own bodies, in the belief that this information will result in promiscuous behaviour. Unfortunately, this approach only increases irresponsible behaviour and impairs their ability to make informed choices.
  • In India, our social traditions and tight knit familial structures often make it difficult, if not impossible, for young people to have different opinions from their families and communities. The issues of choosing one’s life partner, exploring one’s sexuality, of having one’s own political or ideological perspective are in no small way representative of an individual’s right to freedom. Young people are often denied those rights while being seen as ‘rebellious’ or ‘disrespectful’.
  • Unlike other marginalized groups that can find strength and representation in their associations and unions, youth have little or no access to such groups. Student unions are being disbanded and are facing increasing hostility. It is becoming difficult for young people’s voices to be heard.

With families stressing on young people’s obligations, colleges focusing on academic grades, and the state perceiving youth as beneficiaries of “youth services”, we need to raise the notion of young people being entitled to rights.

Youth can be a powerful force for change with the potential to make transformative, systemic and sustainable changes. Giving direction and purpose to the enthusiasm of youth can help the country in the tremendous task of nation building.

Advocating for Youth Rights

Here at Samvada, we actively advocate for youth rights. While we have worked with youth for over 25 years, our lobbying for youth rights really took shape in this last decade.

Charter of Youth Rights in 2010

Following a Youth Parliament and several consultations with young people, human rights advocates, and youth workers, a Charter of Youth Rights based on Constitutional principles and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created.

Youth Rights Campaign & Festival in Karnataka, 2019

Samvada has been working towards requesting for the setting up of a Youth Commission in the state of Karnataka.

The Youth Rights Campaign was an incredible milestone in our journey. Initially a youth led campaign, we realised that the movement required additional support and lobbying, in order to achieve its goals.

The festival marked an integral point in our journey towards youth rights advocacy as it was during this festival that Mr. Rahim Khan, the Hon’ble Minister of Youth Empowerment and Sports, Government of Karnataka formally accepted the Memorandum requesting for a Youth Commission.

National Agenda

At a national level, we want to encourage conversations around the importance of youth rights, as well as push for a revision of the National Youth Policy.

Networking

In order to create pathways for social change and advocate for youth rights, youth groups, youth workers and youth work organisations need to come together to advocate passionately for youth rights.
Over the years, we have focused on building first a local, and then a larger national conversation about youth rights.

Collective reflections on youth-hood and sharing of experiences can lead to a sharpening of our approaches. If enough of us come together, our voices will be heard.
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