Ahead of a G20 promising to address the impact of the pandemic on developing countries, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi urges the nations leading the global response to treat only the most vulnerable communities, including the poorest and most marginalized children. Photo credit: Mahmuddun Rashed Manik / IPS
UNITED NATIONS, November 19 (IPS) – Over 100 youth activists from around the world practically gathered before the summit of some of the world’s richest nations on November 21. They called on leaders to restructure the global response to COVID-19 and ensure aid reaches the most marginalized people in the world.
Youth movement leaders and student unions are calling on the world’s richest nations to correct an “incredibly unequal” global response to COVID-19 by addressing the plight of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth.
The youth leaders gathered for a global forum ahead of the 2020 G20 Summit, which Saudi Arabia is practically hosting from November 21-22. The online youth event “A fair share for our future” was organized by the 100 million campaign. an initiative by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi that empowers young people and addresses issues such as child labor, poverty, access to education and violence against children.
Satyarthi, a longtime children’s rights attorney, has asked world leaders to pay special attention to the needs of children during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September he called on governments to hold large child labor companies accountable. Ahead of a G20 promising to address the impact of the pandemic on developing countries, Satyarthi urges the nations leading the global response to target only the most vulnerable communities.
The richest governments have focused heavily on saving businesses and economies as part of global relief to COVID. While this needs to be done, it cannot be done at the expense of the world’s poorest and most marginalized children, Satyarthi said. Ensuring a fair share for children by allocating 20 percent of global COVID relief to the 20 percent of the most marginalized children and their families, and the immediate release of $ 1 trillion (just a fraction of the global response) can be about Saving 70 million lives. I urge G20 members to prioritize the most marginalized children this year and save the loss of an entire generation.
According to the official agenda, the G20 heads of state and government will focus on three main areas. Empower people, protect the planet and create new borders. Leandra Phiri, a youth activist from Malawi, urged young people to hold leaders accountable for their promise of opportunities for all.
Provide solutions and prepare future generations not to face the things we are facing right now. We face uncertainties, imbalances and exclusions. If they don’t make us dream, we won’t let them sleep in the name of my fellow youth, she said.
Ankit Tripathi, an Indian international student in Canada, discussed the adverse effects of COVID-19 on inherently vulnerable migrant populations. His comments follow a recently released joint global report from the International Organization for Migration and the World Food Program warning that COVID-19 and measures to contain its spread have disrupted human mobility patterns, the consequences of which have been seen for years Come. Tripathi said leaders need to ensure migrants have access to health and social services.
Migrants are often the exception for many public services in countries. Living an everyday life that is the same as or more difficult than others, but access to public services is severely limited. Some of the richest nations in the world compete to increase the international student population in their countries for financial and social capital, but when it comes to providing assistance, we don’t even get lip service, let alone real political support, he said.
Another area affecting youth is domestic violence, which is exacerbated by the economic blow from COVID-19, including unemployment. Johannah Reyes from the feminist organization WOMANTRA in Trinidad and Tobago passionately appealed to executives to protect women and children from abuse. She reminded the summit that women and youth are bearing the brunt of COVID-19-related job losses in America and are in need of help.
This inequality in unemployment makes women and young people less able to protect themselves from abuse and less able to participate in political processes and organize, she said. My organization WOMANTRA has so far documented 20 femicides for the year in Trinidad and Tobago. That heartbreaking list includes women from Trinidad, Venezuelan migrant women and a child with a disability, Reyes said.
The young activists say the pandemic has severely affected the education of children at risk. In many parts of the world, COVID-19 restrictions have resulted in a transition to online teaching, but millions of students who do not have access to the technology they need are falling behind. Brazilian union leader Rozana Barroso said that as the digital divide widens, hunger will rise for many students in her country.
Bolsonaro ignores the digital exclusion of young people who do not have access to the internet, she said. It has now been 7 months since some students were able to attend school. Democracy means access to the internet and the fight against hunger. Many students are also more hungry because some of them could only eat at school every day.
In Malawi grassroots activists are concerned about the consequences of the COVID-19 disorder in class for young girls, especially in rural areas. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United States Population Fund, the reality of pre-COVID life in Malawi included high rates of child marriage, teenage pregnancies, and maternal mortality. The Malawi National Students Union has been following the numbers and the union’s president, Japhet Nthala, said they have increased since the COVID lockdowns.
From the school’s closure on March 28th this year to around June, we’ve seen rampant cases of teenage pregnancies and child marriage. In the eastern region of the country, we have seen approximately 7,274 teenage pregnancies. This took effect because students were idle and schools were closed, Nthala said.
Youth leaders say that from hunger and abuse to unemployment and lack of access to health services, the problems facing the most marginalized people in the world are compounded by COVID-19. They demand that world leaders provide an equitable, moral and fair internationalist response to COVID 19, that national governments uphold the basic human rights of their citizens, and that they provide special protection to the most vulnerable children and young people during the pandemic .
They say the G20 leaders have taken the reins of the COVID response and must now take responsibility for responding to the needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.
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