Youth Empowerment

At a time when the country is convulsed by economic, social and political crises, one of the most vulnerable segments of the society appears to be our hapless youth. Alarming rates of unemployment, crippling economy and rising inflation have created a volatile environment which has impeded the progress of the youth along with adversely affecting their emotional and mental wellbeing. In particular, the burgeoning youth unemployment coupled with impecunious circumstances has made it excruciatingly difficult for the young to fend for themselves.

In a similar vein, the abysmal education system has proved to be hopelessly inadequate in redressing these problems by failing to cater to the specific needs of individuals. Instead of regurgitating incessantly, the students must be apprised of the myriad challenges they would inevitably confront in their professional lives and, consequently, empowering them with the necessary skills to tackle these issues.

While there is no dearth of talent in Pakistan, lack of opportunities and a reckless disregard for the plight of youth has contributed considerably to a growing sense of disillusionment and resentment among the young. The UNDP noted in its 2017 report that Pakistan’s ‘youth bulge provides unique opportunities for the country’s social and economic uplift whereby the latent potential of young people can be harnessed by providing openings for growth and personal development.’

Hence, the pertinent question arises as to how the institutional framework of the state can be refined in order to create an environment conducive to the creative endeavors of the young, thereby, enabling them to thrive and flourish. This would doubtless play a pivotal role in ameliorating the prevailing socioeconomic conditions.

For instance, the government ought to provide numerous opportunities such as apprenticeships in order to give a much needed sense of security to young individuals who are just starting out in their respective careers and are, clearly, not well versed in the tricks of the trade as compared to their more experienced counterparts.

Furthermore, special provisions must be made with regard to young women, who are particularly susceptible to experiencing sex-based discrimination due to deeply entrenched patriarchal attitudes towards women who venture out of their houses to seek employment. One of the factors sustaining this gender bias is the erroneous belief that the public domain is reserved exclusively for men and that women’s role in society ought to be restricted to the performance of household chores and child rearing. Specific legislation ought to be passed which criminalizes workplace gender discrimination.

It is evident that in these turbulent times, it behooves the government to act with expedience and pay scrupulous attention to the woes of the youth when taking any measures aimed at them instead of merely paying lip service to their rights. In my humble opinion, they should follow Yeats’s advice and walk softly since they are walking on the dreams of this country’s youth and its future.

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