World Population Day: What does “Investing in Youth” mean to the United Nations in Timor-Leste?

11 Jul 2014

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Timor-Leste is one of the youngest nations in the world, both in terms of history and demography. Nearly two out of five Timorese today have been born since the nation gained independence in 2002 and 62 percent of the population is under the age of 25. Investing in youth is a moral imperative and the only path towards inclusive development, as no sustainable outcomes can be achieved by bypassing half of the population.

This special context positions youth as a key area of focus for the United Nations. We believe that investing in youth means investing in Timor-Leste’s present and future; forging a national identity; and building a strong and resilient nation that is ready to tackle both today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. Timor-Leste’s young men and women are drivers of change and key agents for social cohesion. Only by empowering them with knowledge, and encouraging them to use their energy and creativity, will Timor-Leste achieve sustainable socio-economic development.

The United Nations’ agencies, funds and programs are committed to working with the Government of Timor-Leste and other partners and stakeholders to address key youth issues. We are “Investing in Youth” to achieve multiple results . Among them, we aim to provide youth with a future in which they can enter freely into a productive adulthood because they are educated, healthy, free from STIs and HIV, and are not exposed to violence, unintended pregnancy or unsafe abortion; increase the development and participation opportunities of youth, so that they realize their full social, economic and human potential, and become active citizens of Timor-Leste; ensure access to training, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, while supporting economic policies that result in decent employment for young people; ensure equal access to opportunities for women and men to exercise their human rights and meaningfully participate at all levels of decision-making in order to generate positive social change; ensure the safety of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the medicines and vaccines that treat and protect us, to provide young people with the best healthcare information and guidance, so they  can live longer, healthier lives.

We are proud to recognize the significant achievements of the Government of Timor-Leste and other national partners and the support the UN has provided in these accomplishments. . More than two-thirds of community health centers nationwide have been upgraded to provide sexual and reproductive health services to adolescents and young married couples. Together we have developed a life skills curriculum, trained 200 facilitators and teachers, and supported training for young people aged 15-24 years in schools and youth centers over the past ten years, thereby reaching 100,000 young men and women. UN-supported programmes have provided more than 25,000 youth with vocational and entrepreneurship training, business services and career counseling in the past five years, and established a labour market information system to track employment outcomes. We have supported hundreds of young women in remote areas of Timor-Leste to gain the skills and means to be economically independent and the knowledge and confidence to address gender discrimination, including violence against women.  The number of malaria cases has been reduced by 99.0 percent during the past seven years through a number of interventions including the distribution of one quarter of a million mosquito nets to young mothers. And we have established Community Learning Centers in three districts to increase education opportunities for youth.

Investing in youth requires continuous effort and we look forward to reaching out to more of Timor-Leste’s young and vibrant population. Working together we can deliver a nation where every young person's potential is fulfilled.