Multiple youth events were held at the United Nations the week of August 5, including a dialogue with the Secretary General and other panelists to kick-off International Youth Day celebrations, as well as the 12th Youth Assembly, beginning August 7. Ban Ki-moon stated that for the first time, the UN system will have a common strategy for youth development, including UN youth volunteer programs and forums for youth to engage with the UN from national to global levels. Youth education is a priority, and the second MDG goal after eliminating abject poverty. The Global Education First Initiative is one major program recently instigated to address this challenge. Better educational opportunities creates more active members of society and eliminates political unrest. Panel speakers, including Lakshmi Puri, acting head of UN Women and Charles Dan, Special Representative on Youth and Social Inclusion, also spoke, speaking about the need to reduce gender parity and reduce youth unemployment rates. The “Youth Engagement Toward Employment in Global Development” event at the Youth Assembly involved speakers representing youth employment initiatives. Nejeed Kassam, Founder of Networks for Change, described his organization’s flagship program, Moja, which will be a social media site for youth dedicated to social change. Andrea Taylor commented on Microsoft’s YouthSpark program, which focuses on creating educational and employment opportunities for youth.

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