South Asian youth conference begins

LAHORE: The three-day South Asian Regional Youth Conference 2014 (SARYC ’14) took off on Tuesday under the auspices of the Youth Advocacy Network (YAN) Pakistan at the University of Central Punjab (UCP), Lahore. 
It will continue till Wednesday and around 100 young people from SAARC countries including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Pakistan gathered in the city to participate in the event.
The inaugural session was addressed by Minister & Adviser to CM Punjab Zakia Shahnawaz, Air Commodore Akbar Naqi, Pro-Rector UCP Dr. Muhammad Zafarullah, Family Planning Association of Pakistan (FPAP) Kamal Shah, Chair-SARYC ’14 Fasahatul Hassan, Omair Rasul UN representative and others.
The speakers stressed that the SAARC countries need to realise regional priorities to address the development challenges they face, in particular food security, reproductive health, child mortality, education, water and sanitation. It was shared with the audience that the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region is home to 1.6 billion people that form around 27 percent of the global population. This region needs attention as South Asia was declared one of the least stable sub-regions of the globe.
Fasahatul Hassan Chair-SARYC ’14 said that the youth between the ages of ten and twenty-four years form nearly one-third of the population in most South Asian countries. Therefore, it was important to include their voice in future planning and strategy development, as they are the leaders of tomorrow.
The conference will give participants an opportunity to know about the commitments made by different South Asian governments under the international agreements on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Besides, it aims to develop a regional level youth network of young people and an outcome document “Lahore Charter of Demand.”
The topics to be discussed at the conference include Globalisation and Youth-led Development, Peace and Intercultural Dialogue, Achieving Good Governance & Accountability, Environmental protection, HIV/AIDS, Gender Equality & Ending Systematic Inequalities, Empowering Marginalised and Key Youth Population, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and SRHR and National Laws and Obstacles in South Asia.
SARYC ’14 Media Coordinator, Asif Nadeem said, “The objectives of the conference include how to make young people understand the transition from MDGs to post 2015 development agenda, to ensure inclusion of SAARC development vision for progress on post 2015 development, to develop effective partnerships among young people and youth-led organisations in South Asian Countries and to develop an exclusive platform for young people of SAARC countries “South Asian Youth Advocacy Network (SAYAN).” 

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