official commemoration of International Youth Day 2019

The official commemoration to celebrate International Youth Day 2019 will take place online, through video communication technology, and would be held in early August 2019. It will be organized by the Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD) of the Department for Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and would consider the social development aspects of transforming education to be inclusive and accessible. The event will also seek broad participation online, including from Member States, youth organizations, and academia.


Read further: Read the latest data on the world’s youth from the UN DESA Population Division.



International Youth Day: 12 AUGUST 2019

The theme of International Youth Day 2019, “Transforming education”, highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” –  International Youth Day 2019 will examine how Governments, young people and youth-led and youth-focused organizations, as well as other stakeholders, are transforming education and how these efforts are contributing to the achievement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Statistics remind us that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible: (1) Only 10% of people have completed upper secondary education in low income countries; (2) 40 % of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand; and (3) over 75 % of secondary school age refugees are out of school. In addition, indigenous youth, young people with disabilities, young women, young people belonging to vulnerable groups or in vulnerable situations, etc. are facing additional challenges to access education that respects their diverse needs and abilities as well as reflects and embraces their unique realities and identities.


Making education more relevant, equitable and inclusive is crucial to achieving sustainable development. Education is a ‘development multiplier’ in that it plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies. Education should lead to effective learning outcomes, with the content of school curricula and pedagogy being fit for purpose, not only for the 4th industrial revolution and the future of work and life, but also for the opportunities and challenges that rapidly changing social contexts bring.

Youth engagement is crucial to bringing about more relevant, equitable and inclusive education. Youth-led organizations are transforming education by partnering with Governments, educational institutions and other stakeholders, lobbying and advocating education policies and developing complementary training programs. Youth-led organizations are addressing barriers for youth on the basis of economic status, ethnic group, gender, and other characteristics; updating education plans and school curricula to include lessons about peace, justice and the environment and climate change, among many other areas. Youth engagement is essential to the transformation of education into a means for inclusive youth development and sustainable development more broadly.

International Youth Day 2019 will highlight good practices and lessons learned in the efforts undertaken to ensure that education is relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth. It will also sketch out the road ahead for the various stakeholders engaged in this endeavour.

Read the latest data on the world’s youth from the UN DESA Population Division.

unilver entrepreneurship awards

Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards

The Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards can help you take your sustainability initiative, product or service to the next level. Take a look at what you need to know about the Awards this year. Then send us your entry!


We believe the world will only succeed in delivering the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals if we all start to think and work differently. That means a real shift towards meaningful partnerships and collaboration across the whole range of players – from governments to NGOs, and big businesses to start-ups. Imagine what we can achieve together.

That’s why six years ago we started the Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Awards to recognize and support brilliant young innovators tackling the planet’s biggest environmental and social challenges, and to help them achieve scale for impact.

Since the launch of the Awards in 2013, we’ve reached over 5,800 inspiring young sustainability entrepreneurs and their organisations and provided tailored support and funding to 37 winners. From simple solutions with far reaching impacts for child nutrition, to ground breaking technologies to cut greenhouse emissions, these changemakers are challenging business as usual and leading the way to a more sustainable future.

Each year we provide up to eight winners with financial support to help them grow – with the overall winner of the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize receiving €50,000. All winners attend a residential Accelerator Programme run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, followed by a year of mentoring support completely tailored to their needs. That could range from business support through to personal development coaching – whatever is most needed to help that entrepreneur and their business succeed. And where it’s right for both sides, we’ll support the entrepreneur to open doors and make new business connections – whether that’s within Unilever or elsewhere.

We know that the world’s problems will only be solved with the ideas and talents of a new generation of leaders and future-makers who are challenging business as usual, and who are the future of sustainability. We see a big opportunity to support, inspire, reward and collaborate with them, to help them scale and grow – both as individuals and as enterprises.

So, if you are working on an innovative and scalable technology or initiative – or know someone who is – which is contributing to one or more of these three categories, then we want to hear from you.



It’s Time For Action. Period - MENSTRUAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT (2019)

It’s Time For Action. Period – MENSTRUAL HEALTH MANAGEMENT (2019)

Leading global development actors, philanthropists, and companies call for increased action and investment to ensure that women and girls are no longer limited because of their periods.

by Thorsten Kiefer, the World Bank Water Global Practice, Procter & Gamble, and The Case for Her

Original appeared here:


When the creators of Period. End of Sentence accepted their Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards, producer Melissa Berton ended her speech by declaring: “A period should end a sentence — not a girl’s education.” This statement wasn’t only a powerful end to an emotional speech, it touched on the far-reaching impact of menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Beyond the dignity and wellbeing of individual women and girls, MHM has wider social and economic effects at national levels, including on education. While the relevance of MHM is increasingly recognized, a significant increase in investment is required to address menstruation-related challenges faced by women and girls globally.

Khushi was on her way to school, as on any other day, when she felt something wet in her underwear. When she checked, she was horrified to find blood on her fingers. Khushi knew what this meant. She had cancer. She was dying. Panicked, Khushi started running, hoping that she would make it home in time to say goodbye to her family. When she finally got there, her mother reassured her that she wasn’t dying. She had just gotten her first period.

Khushi’s experience as a girl growing up in Northern Bihar, India is by no means an exception. Menstruation — a natural and normal biological process and a sign of good health — continues to be shrouded in taboos, myths, and misconceptions. Millions of girls around the world have no idea what menstruation is, let alone how to manage it safely and hygienically when they get their first period. Negative social norms and practices result in girls being stigmatized and excluded, which undermines their social status and confidence in already turbulent times. This, in addition to limited access to hygienic menstrual products and period-friendly sanitation facilities in schools, means that periods are a significant obstacle for millions of girls to attend and perform well in school.

New research in Argentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, and the Philippines highlights the high prevalence of menstruation-related challenges girls face related to education. Amongst other things, we’ve found that in India, 70% of girls knew nothing or very little about menstruation when they had their first period. In South Africa, 76% of girls reported that they were afraid to get up in class when on their period. In the Philippines, 8% of girls reported missing school because of menstruation.

This confirms a growing body of evidence on the impact of period-related challenges on school attendance and performance.

A girl that is empowered to manage her menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence, and without shame is more likely to stay in school once she reaches puberty. She is then less likely to get married early or have children when she is not yet ready. On average, she will have fewer children and her family will be healthier, wealthier, and better educated. Notwithstanding the remaining knowledge gaps, it is high time to step up efforts to address this critical barrier to girls realizing their full potential for themselves, their families, and their communities.


Investing in interventions to empower girls to manage their menstruation safely, hygienically, with confidence and without stigma, so that they continue to attend and perform well in school once they start puberty isn’t just the morally right thing to do, it also makes economic sense.

“Investing in good menstrual hygiene management to enable women and girls to reach their full potential is a critical measure to build a nation’s human capital over time. At least 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for MHM,” she adds. “Inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities, particularly in public places such as in schools, workplaces, or health centers, can pose a major obstacle to women and girls. In many countries where schools do not have adequate sanitation facilities, adolescent girls are likely to miss school while they are menstruating.

“At the World Bank, we are working on providing safely managed sanitation and hand washing facilities, improving WASH in schools and health care facilities, as well as behavior change and other activities to improve girls’ and women’s access to adequate MHM, which can, in turn, result in higher school attendance and improved reproductive health.”
says Jennifer Sara, Senior Director, World Bank Water Global Practice.

Unfortunately, menstrual hygiene is not explicitly included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework. Without an overarching goal and joint monitoring of progress, sector efforts have been fragmented, with many of the largest actors not reporting on how many girls they reach per year. To start creating a more coherent picture, WASH United carried out the ‘Action for Menstrual Hygiene Education’ survey to capture the overall efforts on MHM education in the run up to Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019. The survey — to which more than 300 organizations contributed by sharing their results for 2018 and goals for 2019 — shows a clear trend towards increased action on MHM education. While far from complete, it also offers a first baseline that can be used to fuel advocacy and accountability.

President of Global Feminine Care at Procter & Gamble Jennifer Davis welcomes the positive trend in MHM education and reinforces P&G’s commitment to it:

“We realize there are many barriers to girls’ education, with MHM being a significant one. This year, our Always Puberty & Confidence Education program will not only reach 18 million girls around the world with quality MHM education, but also the boys, teachers, and parents that support them. Additionally, our global #EndPeriodPoverty program is on track to donating 40 million period products to help girls stay confidently in school and focused on reaching their potential. We’ll continue working to drive meaningful change, help end period poverty, and ensure girls have the MHM knowledge they need to become confident women.”

Cristina Ljungberg, founder of Swedish philanthropic collaborative The Case for Her is clear about what is needed to further accelerate progress on MHM.

“We see a huge increase in the amount of talk about periods, and that’s fantastic,” she says. “But we still don’t see a comparable increase in funding. At this point, The Case for Her, a philanthropic initiative funded by two private individuals, has the largest portfolio of social impact investments for an issue that concerns half of humanity! There is not a single major donor that has MHM as an explicit strategic priority. We need some bold funders to come to the table now to help translate the increase in conversation into action. To the billionaire philanthropists, large foundations, and government agencies out there: here’s an opportunity to make a catalytic impact on an issue that affects half the world’s population! What are you waiting for?”

The topic of menstrual hygiene is achieving increased attention, but a lot more action and investment is needed to ensure that women and girls are no longer kept from realizing their full potential because of their periods. By addressing the challenges in MHM, we have the opportunity not only to empower women and girls, but to accelerate the overall development of their families and communities and build the human capital of entire nations.

It’s time for action. Period.
international youth day 2018.jpg

International Youth Day: 12 AUGUST 2018

The theme for International Youth Day 2018 is Safe Spaces for Youth.

Youth need safe spaces where they can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. While there are many types of spaces, safe spaces ensure the dignity and safety of youth.  Safe spaces such as civic spaces enable youth to engage in governance issues; public spaces afford youth the opportunity to participate in sports and other leisure activities in the community; digital spaces help youth interact virtually across borders with everyone; and well planned physical spaces can help accommodate the needs of diverse youth especially those vulnerable to marginalization or violence.

Ensuring that safe spaces are inclusive, youth from diverse backgrounds especially those from outside the local community, need to be assured of respect and self-worth. In humanitarian or conflict prone settings for example, youth may lack the space to fully express themselves without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. Similarly, without the existence of safe space, youth from different race/ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation or cultural background may feel intimidated to freely contribute to the community. When youth have safe spaces to engage, they can effectively contribute to development, including peace and social cohesion.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 11, emphasizes the need for the provision of space towards inclusive and sustainable urbanization. Furthermore, the New Urban Agenda (NUA) reiterates the need for public spaces for youth to enable them to interact with family and have constructive inter-generational dialogue. Additionally, the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) which is the UN framework for youth development, prioritizes the provision of “leisure activities” as essential to the psychological, cognitive and physical development of young people.  As more and more youth grow in a technologically connected world, they aspire to engage deeper in political, civic and social matters, and the availability and accessibility of safe spaces becomes even more crucial to make this a reality.


Stay clean initiative – MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT (2018)


2018 campaign- #NoMore Limits


Today, on Menstrual Hygiene Day, promise yourself healthy and happy periods with these hygiene tips.

  • Change your sanitary napkin every 4-6 hours-
  • Wash yourself properly- …
  • Don’t use soaps or vagina hygiene products- …
  • Discard the sanitary napkin properly-
  • Stick to one method of sanitation-

End Period Poverty Campaign 2017

Period Poverty: How menstruation makes Nigerian girls miss school

Health experts and advocates have named “period poverty” as the main reason that young girls routinely stay away from school, especially in developing countries.

Period poverty is when a girl cannot afford menstrual products during menstruation, which is approximately four days every four weeks. Such girls would often resort to unhygienic practices.

Menstrual hygiene management (MHM) – the practice of using sanitary materials to absorb menstrual blood that can be changed privately, safely, hygienically, and as often as needed – is a sore subject.

Many adolescent girls in developing countries lack appropriate information, means or materials, and access to the right sanitary facilities to manage menstruation. Hence, they adopted unsafe hygienic practices during menstruation that in turn has a negative impact on their dignity, health, and education. Thus, harvestingstars international Youths foundation aimed to educate young girls in the practices of menstrual hygiene management and associated factors especially among secondary school girls in Nigeria.

Menstruation is a recurrent, normal physiological phenomenon in women’s reproductive life. However, many school girls in developing countries confront different menstrual hygiene management (MHM) challenges. Adequate MHM is defined as “women and adolescent girls using a clean menstrual management material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing the body as required, and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management materials”.

In developing countries, nevertheless, many girls cannot access or afford appropriate sanitary materials and often use inferior products such as new or old cloth, cotton wool, toilet paper, underwear alone, sponge, or nothing. Additionally, MHM is constrained by inadequate water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in many school settings in developing countries. Survey performed in five sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria also showed that majority of adolescent girls reported a lack of safe, private, and clean toilets with washing facilities at schools which is important for MHM practices.

It was investigated that unhygienic practices during menstruation increase the risk of reproductive and genitor-urinary tract infection. Accordingly, several studies reported infections related to unsafe MHM practices among women and adolescent girls Menstruation and MHM-related problems adversely affect girls’ school attendance and school performance. The study performed in sub-Saharan African countries revealed that on average, 49% of the school girls missed four school days monthly due to menstruation. Similarly, other studies in Bangladesh and Indonesia revealed that 41% of school girls missed an average of 2.8 school days and 11.1% of school girls missed at least one school day during their last menstruation period, respectively. Furthermore, studies identified that many school girls claimed difficulty of concentration and limited participation during class times due to discomfort and humiliation during menstruation. Besides, MHM practices among school girls can affect multiple areas across the sustainable development goal (SDG) agenda including health, education, and gender equality and women empowerment.

Like many developing countries, in Nigeria, MHM remains one of the main problems faced by school girls while they are in school. Despite enormous challenges related to menstrual hygiene, adequate attention was not given by the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH), sexual and reproductive health, and education sectors. Nigeria is a country of vast socio-cultural diversity and taboos that have an impact on MHM practices. Thus, it is important to identify the practices of MHM to intervene accordingly. However, there is scarce information about MHM practices in Nigeria, particularly in rural areas.


Our goals

  • To help young girls from poor homes who struggle to buy sanitary pads get free sanitary pads regularly
  • To organize seminars, and talk shops, where young girls will be educated on hygienic menstrual management
  • Organize road shows to create awareness
  • To reduce the rate of school dropouts as a result of menstrual period complications.
  • To distribute free treated sanitary pads to girls in schools



  • In Nigeria, more than 40% girls leaves school because of menstrual pains/cramps.
  • One in 10 schools-age African girls don’t attend school during menstruation,
  • The average duration of period is 4-7 days every month which means girls miss 36-63 school days every 9 months.
  • Over 2 billion womenacross the world who do not have access to basic sanitation during their periods, according to a study.
  • The National Democracy and Health Survey 2013, revealed that girls make up 60 per cent of the 10.5 million out-of-school children in Nigeria.


PERIOD PAINS: How the monthly cycle keeps young girls out of school and kills their dreams.

Read more:

international youth day 2017

International Youth Day: 12 AUGUST 2017

The theme of International Youth Day 2017 is Youth Building Peace.

Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 in 2015, there is growing recognition that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.

The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.

Another Security Council Resolution, Resolution 2282 (2016) recognizes that the scale and challenges of sustaining peace requires partnerships between stakeholders, including youth organizations. It also reaffirms the important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts, and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and affirmed that “[s]ustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security”. Goal 16 aims to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. The World Programme of Action for Youth, which provides a policy framework and practical guidelines to improve the situation of young people, also encourages “[p]romoting [the] active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security”.

Young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly, is key to building and sustaining peace. The process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, health care and basic services promotes their role as active contributors to society and affords young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals. When youth are excluded from political, economic and social spheres and processes, it can be a risk factor for violence and violent forms of conflict. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a precondition for sustaining peace.

Further READING:

indian women international youth day 2016

International Youth Day: 12 AUGUST 2016

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day is “The Road to 2030: Eradicating Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production”.

This year’s Day is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It focuses on the leading role of young people in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production.

Sustainable consumption entails the use of products and services that meet the basic needs of communities while safeguarding the needs of future generations. The development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco-efficiency of consumption of all and minimize waste and pollution is critical to achieving equitable socioeconomic development. Yet, many young men and women face barriers to certain green consumption choices. Those barriers to sustainable consumption choices include the high prices of goods and services and a lack of information about the available choices.

Increasing resource efficiency and moving toward sustainable production can contribute significantly to meeting the basic needs of all people, including youth, by making food, water and energy more accessible and affordable to those living in poverty. Investing in sustainable production also creates new markets and employment opportunities and helps ensure the social inclusion of all persons in their societies everywhere.

Changes in consumption patterns also have the potential to contribute to the eradication of poverty. Sustainable development and the creation of conditions that allow for a transition into a green economy, often provide new impetus for economic growth and a higher proportion of spending allocated to social development, including health care and education.

The combined positive impact of sustainable consumption and production on energy use and environmental conservation will greatly benefit those people and places that are more vulnerable to harmful environmental— and industrial— outcomes and climate change. By focusing on the social development dimensions of sustainable consumption and production, this year’s theme places an emphasis on a cross-sectoral approach to sustainability and the vast social, political, economic and environmental interlinkages needed to achieve it.

unilver entrepreneurship awards

Young Entrepreneur Awards

The 2014 Unilever Sustainable Living Young Entrepreneurs Awards in partnership with the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) recognises young people aged 30 and under that have come up with practical, scaleable initiatives designed to tackle the challenge of sustainable living.

Unilever sustainable living young entrepreneurs awards

The overall winner will receive the HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneur Prize.

The seven finalists are:

  • Jackie Stenson, Essmart: Helping villagers in rural India access life-improving products like affordable solar lanterns and non-electric water filters
  • Alloysius Attah, Farmerline: A mobile communications tool that provides agronomic advice and weather forecasts by sending voice messages in local languages to smallholder farmers in Ghana
  • Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup: Working to develop a feasible method to clean up the millions of tons of plastic that pollute the oceans
  • Katerina Kimmorley, Pollinate Energy: Setting up networks of micro-entrepreneurs to distribute sustainable technologies (like solar-lights and clean cooking stoves) on payment plans to India’s urban poor
  • Daniel Yu, Reliefwatch: Simple software helping medical clinics operated by multi-national NGOs in the developing world to digitise and manage inventory records via automated voice calls from feature phones
  • Charles Batte, Tree Adoption Uganda: Helping young entrepreneurs set up businesses by providing mentoring and training funded by trees planted by the entrepreneurs themselves which are sold on to companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint
  • Mark Boots, VOTO Mobile: A voice-based mobile platform helping the world’s poorest people feedback to the organisations who serve them
  • The finalists were selected from 816 entries received on the Ashoka Changemakers platformhailing from 88 countries.

€200,000 In Financial Support & Mentoring

A total of more than €200,000 in financial support and individually tailored mentoring is on offer to help entrepreneurs develop and scale-up their initiatives.

Seven finalists will take part in a four-week online development programme, followed by a two-day accelerator workshop in Cambridge, UK, to help develop their ideas. The final step is a pitch to a panel of judges in London, drawn from the worlds of business, sustainability and entrepreneurs.

The winner and finalists will attend a Prize Event in January 2015 at which the HRH The Prince of Wales Prize will be presented.

The Awards aim to find scalable and sustainable solutions in the form of products, services or applications that enable changes in practices or behaviours in one or more of nine categories:

  • Water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Nutrition
  • Water scarcity
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Waste
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • Smallholder farmers
  • Opportunities for women
  • Micro-Enterprise


Commenting on the Awards, Unilever CEO Paul Polman said: “I believe that youth hold the key to unlocking solutions to many of the challenges our planet faces and last year’s finalists are proof of this. Young people will soon represent 50 percent of the population in developing and emerging countries, but they are 100 percent of the future, so it’s absolutely vital we continue to enrol them in the task of making sustainable living commonplace and invest in their ideas.”

Polly Courtice, LVO, Director of CISL, said: “In its second year, the Awards have attracted an outstanding diversity of applications from ground-breaking leaders across the world. We look forward to welcoming our finalists to Cambridge and supporting this vibrant new network of young entrepreneurs for change.”

Entries for this year’s awards are now closed. The Cambridge Accelerator Workshop and final judging take place in January 2015.