2.2 Young people and COVID-19: Impact and Solutions
My name is Barwaqo Hussein and I am an activist with ActionAid Denmark representing the Regional Civil society Engagement Mechanism.
The pandemic has put a lot of young people’s futures on hold, greatly impacting their social lives, quality education, career opportunities, and mental health. In general, we see an increase in youth unemployment since several young people worldwide work in the informal sector that has been heavily affected by the Covid-19 crisis. Personally, I know of several other young men and women in my community who are facing a hard time securing employment in today’s labour market. Moreover, child labour has unfortunately increased. Women have especially experienced an increased burden of unpaid care work and for young people with disabilities, the pandemic has brought to the surface already existing issues such as institutionalisation, isolation and: lack of accessible environments highlighted by the digital tools used during the pandemic. To mitigate some of the immediate, mid – and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the young people for learning and job opportunities, we stress the following recommendations:
For missed opportunities
● Ensure full employment and decent work with equal pay for all young people , especially marginalised youth. This especially includes advocating for adequate minimum wage and equal pay and living wage between genders.
● Prioritise youth in employment, education, and training . Recognize the competences acquired by young people from other types of learning such as non-formal and informal learning.
● Combat the increase of child labour and trafficking out of desperation
● Support strong trade unions with real negotiating power . Covid-19 crisis has proven how essential it is to have a strong health system and the nurses and caretakers should be paid accordingly and have better working conditions.
For effective initiatives to address inequities
● When building transformatively forward, states should learn from this pandemic that young women and ethnic minorities have been especially exposed to violence and discrimination. National legislation and policies should be aligned with international standards and norms
● Promote inclusion leading to decrease of discrimination due to ethnicity, citizenship status, etc. Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard. Hereto very relevant to follow the recommendation from the European Commission stating that all member states should have an action plan against discrimination. In the aftermath of Covid-19 crisis, this is more urgent than ever.
● Ensure adequate, long-term funding at all levels to effectively implement youth policies and programes. Also provide paid and mentored opportunities for diverse youth to be actively involved in decision making and action-oriented efforts at all levels For closing the digital divide
● Ensure equal access for all to affordable quality technical, vocational and tertiary education . Make sure that all children and young people in the education system are included so that the ones that do not have digital access will be provided with devices, sim cards or printed curriculums so they are not left behind.
● Digital life-long learning should be inclusive for all kinds of children and young people, and we need to ensure equal access at all levels for marginalised groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations. E.g., sign language should be provided during teacher’s oral presentations and written alternatives are possible for deaf people.
Policy COVID responses including youth
● Build on experience from COVID-19 and continue the increased more accessible digital engagement (online platforms etc.) to strengthen youth participation in society.
● Respect, promote and protect the human rights of young people, including the right to non-discrimination. Develop policies that reach marginalised youth , including migrants and refugees, youth living in rural areas, adolescent girls and young women, indigenous and ethnic minority youth, young persons with disabilities, young people living with HIV/AIDS, young people of different
sexual orientations and gender identities, and homeless youth.
● Provide universal health coverage , including for all young persons, and ensure that health systems effectively meet the needs of youth in the time of COVID-19 and throughout the recovery phase, including public health promotion, testing and treatment, and provision of mental health services
Thank you so much