Youth Engagement for Prosperity in Bangladesh

Plan International

I feel proud to represent Bangladesh and do it wherever I go. The 5th Asian Youth Forum - co-hosted by the Asian Development Bank and Plan International- was one of the biggest platforms where I had the opportunity to showcase the issues and potential of youth living in our country. In my view, youth are the backbone of a nation: we bring enthusiasm and dynamics not only to the population structure but also to the social structure. Focusing on the biological and social development of youth is vital for a nation to achieve its human development goals.

As a youth myself, I believe that we play an important role in the socio-economic development of a country. Unfortunately, our potential remains under-utilized: we must focus on equipping youth with skills to contribute to the overall development of a country. Without this investment, the potential to invest and develop the youth force remains untouched.
I think that the 5th Asian Youth Forum provides youth with the exclusive opportunity to engage with stakeholders and demonstrate the capacity that young people possess to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the region.
By participating in the forum, I have built a strong network with 162 youth from 29 countries. The friendly environment enabled open discussion and a space to share ideas, skills, and knowledge, which benefitted everyone. I was able to share my own views on what youth were facing in Bangladesh, as well as learn what youth from other countries are experiencing.
Today, we, the youth of Bangladesh, are faced with various problems including unemployment, illiteracy and lack of technical education, among others. Our poor financial situation had resulted in malnutrition at an early age, challenging our physical, mental and intellectual ability to take on responsibilities at a younger stage.
I believe that education is one of the prime ways to achieve positive human development. However, in Bangladesh, the unfavorable economic situation acts as a barrier to achieve proper education. 
The financial crisis leads to students dropping out from higher and secondary schools as they are unable to afford their education. Leaving school has immense impact on a young person’s life and can lead them into harmful and exploitative situations.
During the “Design Monitoring Framework” session at the Asian Youth Forum, I was trying to find a solution or opportunity that would enable youth to bring about positive change to their families, society, and the country.
Then, an idea came to mind; I realized that the media’s role and importance in Bangladesh is ever increasing. Media play a part in all aspects of our daily lives; however, media channels - whether print, radio or TV - lack the youth perspective. 
Youth and the media could join hands to highlight and solve different problems faced by the society. Collaborating could also increase opportunities for youth to work in the media industry. 
While media is critical to raising awareness, I believe that in order to bring about growth and prosperity in Bangladesh we must nurture an environment where peace is more visible than conflict and address inequalities and social challenges.
The problems faced by youth must be addressed with utmost sincerity. Government officials and parents should propose ideas and ways to enhance youth development, and opportunities for young people to share their opinions and feelings. Using media is just one example.
A peaceful environment will allow us to grow with an open mind, and support us as we gather skills, knowledge and information for a professional life.
More efforts are needed to raise awareness about the importance of youth participation in civic engagements - and I look forward to being a part of that effort.

Originally published by Plan International