#SeparatedbutUnited - hope of a better future
As the world starts to look towards the social and economic recovery following the global coronavirus pandemic, the lives, rights and wellbeing of a whole generation of young people depends on what comes next. This series of short blog posts on how we build a better future are all written by the Board Members of the European Youth Forum.
Choosing the “rights” way forward
Written by Silja Markkula
It goes without saying that the coronavirus crisis changed the world. How permanently, is the question, and with what price. It is time to start looking ahead, beyond just the immediate effects of the coronavirus crisis. It’s time to reflect on what we want our societies to look like in the aftermath of the pandemic. This requires a proactive as well as a preventive response to what might follow, to attempt to avoid the worst impacts of the pandemic. We cannot simply assume that things will return to how they were.
While young people have not been as affected by the virus itself, youth have been disproportionately affected by the secondary effects of the pandemic. More than one in six young people have had to stop working, not to speak of disruptions in education, or the challenges for those entering the labour market in the current situation.
What we are facing are the secondary crises, following the pandemic situation. Here I do not refer to simply a second wave of COVID-19, but the secondary consequences of it, beyond the virus itself: a mental health crisis as well as an economic one, where young people are hit the hardest.
The bottom line is, we need a rights-based approach in the aftermath of the pandemic, a response where the rights of young people are both recognised and fulfilled. Young people and youth organisations have been at the frontlines of the immediate crisis. It is equally important that we are included in the rebuilding of our societies in the long run, and not forgotten in the rebuilding policies. Human rights should be the starting point of the rebuilding, not an afterthought. Youth should not pay the price of the pandemic in the long-term. It’s time to bring human rights back to the centre of the discussion.
Silja is the board member responsible for youth rights, civic space and the EU Youth Dialogue. She represents the platform in the European Steering Groups of both the ongoing and upcoming cycles of the EU Youth Dialogue. In the Advisory Board of the Fundamental Rights Forum 2021 Silja is advancing meaningful youth participation and the realisation of the rights of young people in Europe. She is the board member responsible for the Expert Group on youth rights that supports Member Organisations in engaging with human rights mechanisms and conducts an impact assessment on the mainstreaming of youth rights. Together with a task force consisting of board members, Silja is working on improving the good governance practices within the platform.