By Ifat Gazia, American Red Cross volunteer
Over the years, since 1999, a lot has been said about the importance of International Youth Day. Every year, with a different premise, social issues and challenges are brought into the forefront, so that the roles of young men and young women are celebrated as equal partners in change and making the world a better place. But alongside the celebrations is an important reminder to raise awareness about the difficulties and challenges faced by the youth in current times.
This year’s theme is very critical and central to the contemporary debates of world peace and safety. This year International Youth Day is centered on creating safe spaces for youth worldwide. Some of those spaces can be social, civic or even digital. But can safe spaces be really created everywhere in the world where a large portion of the population is facing war, exile and migration?
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a driving force behind international humanitarian law, a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of armed conflict by offering protection to civilians. It also sets parameters to activities that are accepted or not accepted on the battleground and beyond.
Furthermore, the organization, of which the American Red Cross is a global partner, supports the study of international humanitarian law at the secondary and university levels across the globe by providing training, internships and online resources to people who work on the ground, such as journalists, aid workers, doctors, policy makers, humanitarian practitioners or researchers.
Bringing youth together, harnessing their talent and making them speak about their fears and experiences when no one is judging them can be difficult from a practical point of view. Spaces where they can talk openly without the fear of persecution, prison and punishment are hard to create and difficult to sustain. But as long as there are organizations like the American Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross, these initiatives look very much achievable.