“Nothing about us without us.” These simple words convey a profound message that no decisions on policies or interventions impacting young people should be made without their full engagement. UNFPA is committed to strengthening national and regional youth-led networks and pioneering models for youth leadership and participation. We see young people at the heart of our programmes: not as beneficiaries only, but as strong partners and allies. We also recognize that young people are a heterogeneous group, with wide-ranging challenges and needs. Their diverse challenges and needs cannot be addressed without partnering with them.
Young people are already contributing to the resilience of their communities, introducing innovative approaches, inspiring social progress, and driving political change. This is on display in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic where many young people mobilized immediately to respond to the crisis by working as health workers, advocates, volunteers, scientists, social entrepreneurs, and innovators. Access to sexual and reproductive health are only possible when young people have full access to comprehensive sexuality education. It’s essential that young people are at the centre of this work.
This collection of stories and portraits from across the Asia-Pacific region celebrates young people and the activists working to empower youth by giving them a voice.