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Youthhood, an omitted ground of discrimination

Published on 12.12.2022 at 19:22

As a youth human rights activist I believe that the States should guarantee an enabling and safe environment for meaningful youth participation, which fully respects the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to access information, as well as the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. But if one would look at this from a complementarity of human rights, participatory democracy, and rule of law in promoting inclusive youth participation in public decision-making and the realisation of their civil, social, political, economic, and cultural rights; all States across the world fail youth.


Youth is politically under-represented, with 2% of parliamentarians worldwide aged under 30. The age of candidacy, especially for higher office, is not always aligned with minimum voting age, which affects other aspects of youth’s life. Thus, it is not surprising that youth worldwide are three times more likely than adults to be unemployed. When they are employed, they often face precarious working conditions such as zero-hour contracts, and thus, lacking quality jobs and access to social protection. This disproportionately affects youth, with 145 million young workers living in poverty linked to under-minimum wages which go against the principle of equal pay for a work of equal value.


A poverty exacerbated by a lack of access to health, including age-appropriate mental health information and comprehensive sexuality education in schools. When information on sexual, reproductive health is not provided or a parental consent is required for young people to access sexual and reproductive health services, adolescents' ability to take measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections is hindered; not counting marginalised youth and youth with disabilities. So, youthhood status intersects with, adds to, and multiplies youth discrimination, thereby, preventing many young people from enjoying equal opportunities and rights as should be guaranteed by law.

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