Terrorism and poverty have contributed to heightened youth unemployment. Around 200 million youth, or 18 per cent of all youth, live on less than one dollar a day, and 515 million on less than two dollars a day. It is estimated that globally, some 100 million youth are currently enrolled in university-level education.
Yet, 113 million children are not in schools; this compares with the current cohort of 130 million youth who are illiterate. Latest data reveal that an estimated ten million young people are living with HIV/AIDS. This age group is again the most sexually active group. HIV primarily affects youth in their productive years.
If the quantity and quality of work done by the productive work force drops; the overall income of the family and the community will be greatly devastated. And, at the same time, unemployment and poverty are the main reasons for girl trafficking. Corruption, poor governance and political instability are some of the causes that turn the youths into a frustrated lot. This may even encourage them to engage in terrorism. Falling educational standards along with high incidence of unemployment also serve as breeding grounds for terrorism.
The continued deterioration of the status of youth, who face growing levels of marginalisation, epidemic diseases, functional illiteracy and substance abuse are some of the major socio-economic challenges facing the youth. Unemployment also has severe damaging effects on young people. They suffer low self-esteem, exclusion from mainstream society and impoverishment. In Nepal, nearly 1.5 million youth are totally unemployed, according to studies.
As the state fails to chalk out proper strategies to provide jobs, the problem is gaining urgency day by day. For the last ten years, Maoists are increasingly recruiting poor and vulnerable youths and exploiting them for their selfish purposes. The three main issues keeping the Maoist war on the boil are unemployment, underdevelopment and corruption. Due to political uncertainty, hardly any socio-economic reforms have been undertaken though successive governments boast about the same time and again. The cost of war in Nepal has been horrific.
The near catastrophic destruction of vital sectors like education in Nepal shows how a society can collapse under the weight of long-term terrorism caused to a large degree by poverty and unemployment. Youth organizations as well as national and international agencies, including UN, have an important and effective role to play to change such a situation. But networking among youth organizations is virtually lacking.
NGOs and youth organizations must demonstrate a strong commitment of moving beyond analysis and deeper understanding to actually undertaking concrete actions in their respective sectors. They must be committed to supporting each others efforts through sharing of experiences, knowledge and information. Terrorism will only be effectively tackled when its root cause, youth poverty, is properly addressed.
It seeks to bring the voice of the poor youth to policy makers, and to let them understand the realistic impact of their policies on the daily lives of those struggling in poverty. Strategies to reduce youth poverty must be situation-specific, directly addressing the realities on the ground. With the help of youth organizations, Nepal should aim at strengthening national self-confidence and social fabric of traumatized youth, to encourage and help them to overcome enormous human security challenges. Long term and short-term policy need to be formulated to enhance youth involvement in the nation building process. It is equally important to impart skills to youths-especially to those who haven’t been able to pass SLC – as these are the ones that can be diverted to destructive causes rather than constructive ones in our rural setting.