Vulnerable Youths in Nepal are part of the equation

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All over the world there are millions of youths living in vulnerable situations, marginalized and excluded from the mainstream society, deprived of their rights to thrive at life.

If you live with a disability or you belong to a marginalized group and you are from a developing country, the odds to succeed at life are very minimal.

International aid programs, despite their best intentions, often fail at offering practical and tangible solutions that can improve the living conditions of such youths.

Initiatives targeting vulnerable youths stemming from the governments, when they exist, are often marred by complex procedures, mismanagement and lack of accountability and often outright corruption, the usual cocktail of factors that undermine and block any attempts at establishing good governance at national levels.

Nepal has just concluded its first federal election with a two phases voting. The hope is that any new government, probably a coalition of big and smaller parties, will be able to ensure stability and kick off a new era of national development.

Social inclusion should be a top priority. Youths living in vulnerable conditions, including youths with disabilities, deserve maximum priority from any future government. Among them, girls are even more vulnerable.

Equity based measures are in certain cases already in place but their implementation is at best patchy and often murky.

Previous governments have been rolling out several scholarship schemes for disadvantaged children and youths but the effectiveness of such initiatives leaves wide margins for improvements.

The same could be said for special programs to promote small business creation among local youths living in rural areas.

In short those youths who need more support and lack any kind of exposure are those who are left behind.

If you are a youth living with disabilities for example you live in stigma and marginalization. You end up stop dreaming and in most cases your only goal is to obtain a job with the public sector through quota.

The recently formed local bodies could offer an opportunity for youths living in vulnerable status to get engaged with decision making.

The new federal system, whose details are in many instances still in the making, devolves in principle vast powers to the local levels.

Youths, especially those in most disadvantaged status, should be encouraged to get more engaged to the local affairs, taking a strong interest on how resources are spent and used.

The common misconception is that the government lack resources and is dependent on foreign aid but while the latter’ contributions to the national budget are still significant, they are declining.

A lot of money goes often unspent or is plainly misused.

Programs and initiatives are announced but too often fall short in implementation.

Youths should seize this unique momentum and take a stand, becoming more and more active citizens, acting, for example, as “watchdog”, putting into full gear the implementation of the Right to Information that is still underutilized.

At the same those youths living in vulnerable status should be encouraged and supported to thrive at life.

On the one hand, we need better and stronger measures supporting their unique circumstances and needs.

I am not only referring to effective and generous scholarship programs but also other equity measures that could involve the private sector.

In the western world there are an increasing numbers of initiatives being rolled out to bridge the gap between disenfranchised youths and the job market. The corporate sector is stepping up, recognizing its own responsibilities.

We need more innovative ideas to help disadvantaged youths to emerge in countries like Nepal.

Corporates in Nepal also need to step up their commitment. Many of them are doing quite good and a new generation of leaders is coming up in the board rooms with right exposure and right attitudes.

Special internship programs could be rolled out targeting disadvantaged youths.

On the other hand, there is no substitute for hard work. They need to enhance their soft skills including becoming grittier, gaining, step by step, more confidence on the endless possibilities available.

They need to discover their talents and passion and push themselves to show their abilities, proving that they are part of the solution rather than a problem.

They need to improve their abilities to communicate fluently in English.

Yet what is missing now is a platform where they can shine.

Marginalization and vulnerability affecting youths require tailor made measures. It is a long term effort, a tough one. Perhaps in general we should think of a fast tracked approach to support those youths to emerge.

If given a chance they can directly contribute to the betterment of their society, laying the foundations for a better and more inclusive nation.

If these youths start taking care of their communities, if they start volunteering and if they start getting some exposure with the private sector, the society will start taking a different look at them.

With the right support, vulnerable youths in Nepal and in many other parts of the world can embark on a long journey of hard work and self-learning, a pathway towards meaningful and successful lives.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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