The 12th of August is observed worldwide as International Youth Day. Set up by the UN in 2000, International Youth Day aims to draw attention to the cultural and legal issues experienced by young people across the globe. Themed by the UN, the title of this year’s International Youth Day brings together hopes for the future and a realisation that young people across the world can make a difference- ‘The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Production and Consumption‘.
In the midst of the 2016 Olympics the strength of individuals, not only on the track but in their lives, is demonstrated to the world with the first refugee team in Olympic history, ready to compete at Rio 2016. These Olympic athletes have left all they have known and undergone terrifying journeys, without giving up on their hopes to be world-class sportspeople. Through this new team, they have been offered an opportunity to represent others who have experienced similar difficulties, beacons of hope for young people who find themselves in new and unfamiliar countries.
In their theme for this year, the UN have called on people across the world to carefully consider the development of cities and countries, what we produce and what we buy on International Youth Day, in order to meet the UN 2030 aims of eradicating world hunger. Coverage of the Rio Olympics have painted a complicated picture of Brazil and demonstrated that the aims of this year’s International Youth Day is as relevant as ever. In order to prepare for the Olympics, favelas have been removed for the construction of venues and athlete villages, and young men have been hassled by the police in order to reduce petty crime while the games take place. Sadly, the needy and vulnerable are once again being moved out of the way, rather than included in what could be an inclusive new chapter to the city’s history.
Many of the athletes that will be competing in Rio over the next month are in their late teens and early twenties. For them, the Olympics offers potential success and a future career. Bearing in mind the theme of the International Youth Day, it is essential that opportunities are also offered to the people who live near to the venues, who will continue to live there when the excitement is all over. Let’s hope that the Brazilian government have considered how best to use the opportunities offered by hosting the Olympics in a way that benefit the many, rather than the few, for many years to come rather than just now.
Take some time today to think about how the ways in which the Olympics could be used to help people in need in countries like Brazil. What do you think they could do with the empty arenas? Who might use them and what would that mean for their lives?
Girl Museum Inc.