Mannat Dhillon, Program Curator, represented YfPI at Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum held on 30-31 January 2018. The Forum brought youth leaders from around the world to the United Nations Headquarters in New York to engage in a dialogue with Member States to discuss the policy frameworks and promote innovative, institutionalised approaches, and initiatives for advancing the youth development agenda at national, regional and global levels. Through this blog, she shares her insightful experience at the forum and highlights its significance.
A month back, I had the privilege of attending the 2018 UN ECOSOC Youth Forum. Representing Youth for Peace International at such a big platform wasn’t something I had even imagined when I joined the organization. But under the guidance of exceptional mentors, I could grow as a peace builder and get the opportunity of becoming a part of this amazing experience.
Being at the top-most level of decision making in our field, taught me a lot of things which I would like to share with you all.
First, it made me realize the paucity of time. 700 young people, trying to fit such an elaborate agenda as ‘Youth’s role in building sustainable urban and local communities’ into a span of two days- bustling from one session to the next, discussing, deliberating, putting our points forward wherever we could, and taking every chance to network, made me acknowledge the limited amount of time, not just in the UN, to address things that concern us, but also in the world, in general, to make a change.
These two days also made me realize that it was indeed a privilege to get this opportunity. I could be there in New York, representing my organization, while many equally eligible minds couldn’t make it, simply because I came from a more privileged background. It reflected not just the inequality, but also the direction of the narrative of the various concerns and their solutions. It showed me just how important it is to engage with and have an equal representation of/from all sections and parts of the world, for that is the only way the concerns of the vast majority who are underprivileged on various indexes are going to be addressed properly.
The experience also disillusioned me from the mindset that ‘everything is going to be fine’ just because there are people above us, in the UN- the world leaders, who will handle what we on the ground fall short of. Going to the UN bursted that bubble for me. It showed me that by the end of the day, even the world leaders whom we look up to, have limited amounts of time and resources in which they have to address a number of concerns; by default, as a result, issues of immediate political importance take precedent over long term concerns such as environmental degradation or gender inequality. Thus, we need to focus more on the impact each one of us is making on ground- that is where it matters the most.