Getting Indian youth engaged in education and gender equality

Two words, multiple and challenging, can be used to pithily describe India. India is home to an estimated 1.237 billion people (2012) out of which 430 million people in the age group of 15-34 years comprise 35% of the country’s population.

Not only does this cohort represent India’s future in the socio-economic realms, but its experience will largely determine the extent to which the nation will be able to harness its demographic dividend and achieve the vision of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the framework that will come into being in 2015.

The World We Want Workshop was conducted on July 31 at Ankleshwar on “Youth Engagement in Social Transformation” ( à¤à¤° र ). It was organized by the Junior Chamber International (JCI) – Ankleshwar Chapter and United Nations Global Youth Advocate in partnership with Rotary Club of Ankleshwar. The venue of the workshop was S. R. Rotary Institute of Chemical Technology in Ankleshwar, Gujarat.

More than 200 young citizens were trained to understand democracy, governance, gender equality (HeForShe and MARD), education (#UpForSchool) as well as My World 2015 UN Global Citizens Survey. The workshop’s goal was to enhance youth participation in local governance and development as well as localization of global campaigns.

The workshop was facilitated by Saket Mani (UN Global Youth Advocate), Deepak Nahar (JCI Special Recognition committee Member, Asia & Pacific) and Kundan Saun (musician and Global Youth Ambassador), who engaged young people in transforming India by advocating for gender justice, equality, skill development, education and climate change.

The presentations were divided into a series of different topics, such as youth engagement for development, social inclusion and My World 2015 UN Global Citizens Survey to emphasise the different parts that help transform the society.

Meaningful youth engagement involves recognising and nurturing the strengths, interests and abilities of young people through the provision of real opportunities to become involved in decisions that affect them at individual and systemic levels.

With the right investments, today’s young people can reach their full potential as individuals, leaders and agents of progress. And the world clearly needs their energy, their participation and their skills. But delivering this transformation requires collective action on youth leadership development, entrepreneurship and livelihood, peace and human rights, health, education, gender justice, sustainable development and a commitment to real civic engagement.

The youth engaged in open discussion and posed challenging and thought-provoking questions. In addition, they offered their personal reflections on some of the issues examined in the workshop especially on the role of boys in combatting violence against women and democratic governance.


The workshop and the forum stimulated a dialogue that is beneficial to both the participants and UN because youth engagement and youth priority is centred on improving the lives of the young people. The government of India must highly value the ideas and opinions of the youth because they are the ones who will be facing these issues in the future.

The participants had the opportunity to share their issues, envision the future they want for themselves and for the development of India through a small activity where they were divided into groups and had to present it on a chart. They were invited to express a common reflection on the destiny of India and to issue concrete suggestions that will serve as the starting point.

The most interesting aspect of the workshop was to understand the deeper concept of themes as they relate to human rights, peace, global/local justice, cultural diversity and intercultural understanding and sustainable development through music.

The workshop helped to discuss how it has provided participants with a learning journ ey to better understand the topic of sustainability and their possible role as agents of change. It also engaged the participants in a discussion on how reformed education canassist in achieving gender equality. The workshop concluded with young people signing A World at School’s #UpForSchool petition, committing to HeForshe and pledging to be MARD Advocates. The participants also raised #UpForSchool, MARD and HeForShe posters.

We also had a musical performance by Kundan who sang “Azaadi” (freedom in English). His song “Azaadi” (for HeForShe) is the call for change and expressed vividly to touch the hearts of one and all. It’s about giving woman a chance to live, to evolve and to be free from violence, with support from men in her life.

It’s a call to all men to rise for every woman, for once she has realised her inner strength, new paths will blossom at her feet at every opportunity. He also spoke about how music has the power to changes lives, communities and maybe even harmonises countries. He introduced the concept of Music for Development.

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