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Your Excellency the Chief Executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah

Your Excellency Speaker of Mishrano Jirga,

Honourable Deputies,

Honourable Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs

Ambassadors and International Embassy staff

Distinguished guests,

UN agencies colleagues,

Government and civil society partners,

Media representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Salam-u Alikum


Let me start by expressing sincere thanks and appreciation for the invitation to address this house that has again gathered to discuss and address the issues affecting young people in Afghanistan.  

The Youth Parliament gives us an opportunity to identify areas of strategic interventions and key partnerships in building a sustainable development program for young people in this country and it is for this reason I believe we are all here.

The young people gathered here want to be counted and have a voice and meaningful participation in governance and policymaking.

Afghanistan is one of the youngest countries in the world. Youth below the age of 25 make up over 63 percent of the population, while those under the age of 15 comprise almost half.

Excellences the Chief Executive and Speaker, distinguished guests

Investing in the nation’s development would require a pragmatic approach, putting in place relevant social, economic, health policies and programmes. To this end, the consideration of the Demographic dynamics is of utmost importance for sustainable development.

In this regard and in order to realize a Demographic Dividend, distinct changes in population age structures, labor productivity andaccelerated economic growth should happen over time to address stringent issues of unemployment, underemployment, fertility and dependency.

This requires multiple intersecting investments that we all present here today must strive relentlessly to harness. UNFPA has worked with the Deputy Ministry of Youth and other agencies to carry out an analysis and draft a document on investing in Youth and how to realize Afghanistan’s demographic divided (English Pashto and Dari versions are available in your folders).

We have also followed up and worked on a Joint UN Programme of Support on Adolescents and Youth (JUPSAY) with other sister UN agencies and the National Action Plan (NAP) to End Early and Child Marriage (ECM).

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen

When these young people are adequately equipped with knowledge and skills that protect them and can make informed decisions, they can realize their full potential and contribute more meaningfully to economic and social transformation as current and future leaders.

Let me avail myself of this opportunity to draw your kind attention to the strategic importance to involve youth in peace and sustainable development initiatives. This is the time to initiate and implement the required investment in the youthful population.

We need to recognize the need to generate a momentum that offers sustainable livelihoods, viable employment options, capacity building, sexual, reproductive and other health services. A competitive global workplace also demands more skills, education and technical expertise than ever before.

Though Afghanistan is yet to achieve its demographic transition fully, it is never too early to make deliberate investments to ensure an empowered youth, filled with potential and readiness to drive growth across all sectors. This will deliver innovative and lasting development through the right investment in four key mutually reinforcing policy frameworks known as the “4E Policy Framework”i.e Empowerment, Education, Employment and Ensuring equality and equity aiming at the realization of a demographic dividend.

The potential locked within the demographic dividend when unleashed will create the momentum needed to catapult the country into sustained economic growth. But these can only be achieved if we make a conscious effort to change the status of our young people.

Excellence the Chief Executive, Excellence the Speaker, Hon Ministers, Ambassadors development partners, distinguished ladies and gentlemen

In conclusion, permit me to remind you of a salient statement in which Mr Kofi Annan, the 7th UN Secretary-General said;

"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies."

And on this note I look forward to a very fruitful 2nd Youth Parliament, and thank you for your attention.