Our Perspective

      • Empowering youth as ‘the engine of transition’ in Yemen | Ismail Ould Cheick Ahmed

        22 Nov 2013

        image
        More than 73 percent of working-age youth in Yemen is jobless. Our Youth Economic Empowerment Project helps thousands of young men and women find employment and start small businesses. (Photo: UNDP in Yemen)

        Yemen is currently facing an explosive “youth bulge”: the country holds the world's record for fertility rate (5.4 children born per woman) and about a quarter of the population is aged 10 to 19, with 46 percent of them under 16.   In that context, it is hard to think of a successful transition in Yemen without the participation of the country’s youth, and their innovative contributions for the future. But Yemen’s investment in its human resources has been low — nearly 50 percent of Yemenis are illiterate in a mostly rural population of 25 million, more than 40 percent of the population is estimated to be “either hungry or on the edge of hunger", and 73.3 percent of working-age youth are jobless. A recent study assessing youth’s needs in this important phase for the country revealed that young Yemenis feel they do not get the attention they deserve and that they lack a creative environment and opportunities for scientific, cultural and technical talents.   Chronic poverty, inequity and lack of employment opportunities are also causes and triggers for conflict, internal wars and insurgencies. Young people deprived of opportunities can turn to activism or fall into despair, and the active presenceRead More

      • Women in conflict situations need justice | Roma Bhattacharjea

        18 Oct 2013

        image
        Sudanese women gather at workshop on UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security. (Photo: Soujoud Elgarrai/UNAMID)

        When conflict causes a breakdown in social order and the rule of law, inequalities increase and women bear the brunt of the violence. We should, however, not view women as mere victims, as they play a vital role in ensuring sustainable peace. On October 18 the UN Security Council will discuss this role, and reaffirm the right of women to access the rule of law and seek redress for human rights abuses during conflicts. More than a decade after Security Council Resolution 1325 was drafted, which, among other things, committed countries to protecting women and girls in conflict situations, women's voice, leadership and participation, safety, economic security, and access to justice are still distant goals. If all goes well, the Security Council will agree to a new resolution that recommits countries to changing this situation. Sexual and gender-based violence happen wherever there is armed conflict, even after peace treaties have been signed. Reducing violence against women and girls, however, allows girls to go to school, avoid early marriages, and helps decrease human trafficking. It allows women and girls to contribute to just and equal societies, which do not relapse into armed conflict. When the Security Council meets this week, the internationalRead More

      • No democracy without diversity | Heba El-Kholy

        19 Sep 2013

        image
        Libyan women proudly show their inked fingers after voting in the general national congress elections on 7 July 2012. Photo @ Samia Mahgoub / UNDP

        Some say history repeats itself. In 2004, UNDP issued what I believe is one of the best of its global Human Development Reports, Managing Cultural Diversity. The report argued that managing cultural diversity is one of the central challenges of our time and that policy choices about recognizing diverse ethnicities, religions, languages and values “are an inescapable feature of the landscape of politics in the 21st century.” But we still need to debunk powerful myths, including the one that some cultures have inherent democratic values and are more likely to make progress than others. In 2004, as now, the UNDP HDR report showed there was no evidence to support the trade-off between accommodating certain cultures and promoting democracy. Yet sadly, many people still believe this, arguing that the “Arab Spring” is freezing into an “Islamic winter.” Over the years, I have seen that democracy cannot exist without diversity. My work with civil society and with the UN has convinced me that addressing diversity in its broadest sense remains one of the core challenges of the democracy and development agenda. This is one lesson from the wave of revolutions in the Arab region that took the world by surprise, toppling authoritarian regimesRead More