Racism, inequality dominant themes at UN youth debate in Rio

Because of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the original theme of the

Published in 16/08/2016 - 13:45 By Flávia Villela reports from Agência Brasil - Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro -Encontro da ONU e Fiocruz sobre juventude foi aberto pelo grupo Dream Team do Passinho ( Flávia Villela/Agência Brasil )

Racism and social injustice were the dominant themes at an event that celebrated the International Youth Day, organized by the United Nations and Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz FoundationFlávia Villela/Agência Brasil

Racism and social injustice were the dominant themes at an event that celebrated the International Youth Day, organized by the United Nations and Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) on Monday (Aug. 15). Dozens of young people from different social backgrounds were invited to join a talk at the foundation headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

The protocol for formal events with senior UN officials was broken right at the meeting opening with the electrifying dance steps of the Dream Team do Passinho group. The UN Secretary General's Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, and Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, recorded the entire performance on video, and the group was loudly applauded by the audience as they danced to songs about the empowerment of Brazil's black youth.

Because of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the original theme of the meeting was Youth, Sport and Development: The Road to 2030, but key issues for Brazilian youth gained prominence.

Engagement

After reading a poem by black feminist author Roni Morrison, the chair of the National Council for Youth (CONJUVE), Daniel Souza, talked about young people on the edge of society. “Those who are on the edge of a racist, chauvinistic, outdated power that is unable to deal with youth in spaces of power.” Souza advocated greater engagement of youth in decision-making. “Therefore, when we talk about development, we need to ask ourselves what development model we want to pursue, and there can be no change if you don't listen to the people. We need development with social engagement and social environmental justice.”

The UN representatives spoke little and listened much, but in their brief addresses they complimented Brazil's social movements on their struggles and emphasized the important role of youth leadership in changing Brazil for better. “You are not only the future of this country, you are the present. Prosperity and peace in Brazil depend on your creativity and ability to persevere,” Alhendawi said.

The challenges accessing rights and quality services faced by black, poor people were mentioned by nearly all young speakers. Racial Equality Secretary Luislinda Valois pointed out that besides violence, which accounts for the death of one black young person every 23 minutes in Brazil, the opportunity gap is another major hurdle for black people in a country were “as little as 11% of young black people are at universities, the job market is discriminatory and cruel,” she said. “Being black in Brazil is an extremely tough task, so it's crucial to raise these issues and expand public policy initiatives. And as young people, you need to take your place in spaces of power and study hard,” she added.

Education

Quality education was largely pointed out as a tool to achieve change and freedom.  Wilfried Lemke mentioned the example of South Korea, one of the world's poorest countries after the Second World War which grew to become an economic power thanks to education. “The only key to this success is education, nothing more. The same goes for this country and for youth. We need the best teachers to achieve that, we need well-paid teachers, not only in Brazil but also around the world.”

For FIOCRUZ President Paulo Gadelha, the education of young people will only be effective if they are cared for since pregnancy and early childhood and through social inclusion. “Neurological development and socialization takes place at this stage and, likewise, the ability to assimilate education and interact as citizens is not fully achieved without structure that introduces these children into the society in an inclusive way.”


Translated by Mayra Borges


Fonte: Racism, inequality dominant themes at UN youth debate in Rio

Edition: Luana Lourenço / Olga Bardawil

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