EDUCATION

Youth Challenge calls on young innovators to design solutions to improve education, employment and civic empowerment

ISLAMABAD – United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) launched the second edition of the ‘Generation Unlimited’ Youth Challenge in Pakistan, in partnership with the School of Leadership Foundation.

The Youth Challenge, which takes place in over 40 countries worldwide, calls on young innovators aged 14-24 to design solutions to improve education, employment and civic engagement. It aims to inspire young people who have brilliant ideas, but not the resources to bring them to life, giving them a chance to lead. 

A Pakistani team made of three talented young women – Red Code — was one of the five global winners of the 2018-2019 Youth Challenge. Their project supports better menstrual hygiene for disadvantaged girls and women in Pakistan, providing them with reusable cloth pads. Those are stitched by home-based workers to support self-sustaining micro-entrepreneurship.

“Pakistan’s young people are a major resource for social and economic progress,” said Ms. Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “The Youth Challenge is an opportunity to discover their innovative ideas and works with them to co-create solutions for the world of tomorrow. This is at the core of Generation Unlimited, a multi sectoral, global partnership which helps prepare young people for a future of decent work and active citizenship.”

More than 300 teams applied to the 2019/2020 Youth Challenge, out of which 11 teams were shortlisted and took part in design workshops in Islamabad this week. This year’s theme is “Opening Doors, Knowledge and skills for Empowered Youth”.  Today, the five most promising teams were awarded USD 1,000 each in funding; they will also be provided with mentoring to support the projects’ implementation. In June 2020, the most promising solutions will be submitted at the global level, with each winning team receiving further funding of up to $20,000, along with a tailored global incubation programme from Generation Unlimited partners, to support them to scale.

“Pakistan is a young country with 68 percent population under the age of 30” said Mr. Ignacio Artaza, Resident Representative a.i. UNDP Pakistan. “The youth face considerable problems in accessing meaningful opportunities for social engagement and economic empowerment. UNDP is responding to these challenges through targeted interventions and partnerships, such as this challenge. We are focusing on equipping young people with the technical skills and knowledge to compete and succeed in an increasingly competitive labor market and thus opening doors for them.” 

The Youth Challenge is part of Generation Unlimited, a global partnership working to prepare young people to become productive and engaged citizens. It connects secondary-age education and training to employment and entrepreneurship, empowering every young person to thrive in the world of work.

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