BAMYAN - Youth activists in Afghanistan’s central highlands province of Bamyan gathered at a UN-backed symposium to strategize on ways to promote social cohesion in the interest of advancing peace, locally and nationally.
Some 40 young activists from seven districts across Bamyan attended the event, organized by UNAMA’s Bamyan regional office, to exchange ideas on factors hindering the participation of young people in Afghanistan’s social, political and economic life and to chart out possible next steps to maximize their engagement in promoting a culture of peace.
In the wide-ranging discussion, participants not only recognized the power of young people to shape Afghanistan’s future but also underscored the importance of empowering the new generation.
“If education opportunities are provided and their potential is unleashed, Afghanistan’s young people can play a strong role in addressing community differences and promoting local peace,” said youth activist Amir Kawsari.
Kawsari noted that young afghans are paying an extraordinarily high price in the ongoing armed conflict in Afghanistan, not only dropping out of school in high numbers due to security constraints but also forced to flee their homes with their families to avoid the fighting.
Another participant at the event, Qurban Ahmadi, emphasized the importance of youth in building networks across the country, including with remote communities and on social media, to help resolve differences impacting Afghanistan.
Other participants at the symposium offered similar perspectives as they weighed in on the importance of involving young people in building trust between communities and in efforts to prevent and resolve disputes between communities.
While young Afghans face significant challenges, including illiteracy and unemployment, there is a growing recognition that any peace efforts in Afghanistan must be inclusive and must therefore involve young people. That concept is reaffirmed by Security Council Resolution 2282 (2016), which recognizes the importance of youth in deterring and resolving conflict.
Afghanistan has one of the largest youth populations in the world. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the country’s population is below the age of 30, making young people a vital demographic. Young Afghans are also among the most affected by the protracted conflict, grappling with high levels of illiteracy, unemployment and poverty.
Participants in the symposium jointly resolved to establish volunteer youth groups in Bamyan’s capital, along with all districts across the province, to expand their networks and regularly engage in promoting social cohesion and peace.
The discussions that took place at the symposium were recorded for later broadcast by local radio to audiences estimated at 300,000 listeners in and around Bamyan.
At almost every UNAMA-backed event, local media partners not only record the discussion and debate for later rebroadcast, but also create new programmes around the issues that are raised, extending the discussion and creating new opportunities for local voices to be heard on issues such as peace, reconciliation, government transparency, human rights and rule of law.
In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.