International Year of Youth - Fact Sheet - Youth and Volunteerism

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Young people represent at least 18 per cent of the world’s population. In most African countries, youth constitute about 70 per cent of the population. Through greater citizen participation, youth volunteering facilitates access to work and contributes to forming young leaders for today and tomorrow. As a potential tool to address development challenges, youth volunteerism needs to be recognized, encouraged, supported and promoted at global, national and regional levels. The UN entities working on youth issues encourage policymakers, communities and youth themselves to empower young people as a valuable but under-utilized resource. UN efforts focus on encouraging youth participation in programming and policy-making, preparing younger generations to exercise their rights and becoming contributing members of societies. Recognizing the potential for youth volunteerism and the need to create a global forum for youth to undertake this work, the United Nations General Assembly established and mandated the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme in 1970 to promote volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. In 1976, the General Assembly widened the mandate to include advancing the role of youth in development.

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