What is the Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations Program?
Afghan Youth Representative to the UN is a year-long program which was launched in 2018 by Afghans for Progressive Thinking (APT) and the Netherlands’ Embassy in Afghanistan. It is a unique opportunity for Afghan youths to serve as representatives of the younger generations, to advocate for their rights, and to communicate their concerns as well as challenges that they face on both national and international platforms.
Young people represent a large segment of the Afghan society, making up to one third of the country’s total population. They should be seen not only as perpetrators of violence who contribute to the current crisis in Afghanistan, but as key players who will positively contribute to peace and security – a role that has been recognized by the United Nations Security Council with the adoption of Resolution 2250 (Youth, Peace, Security) in 2015 and Resolution 2419 in 2016.
The program, in light of the 2250 agenda, will provide leadership opportunities to one youth representative every year by enabling them to act as an ambassador of peace who can influence policies on the national and global level. The youth delegate will meet with other young people across the country, hear their voices, and convey their message to the international community. The person will also bring back to the country the knowledge and message of the international community and open up opportunities that will pave the way for the future development of Afghanistan’s youth. The UNAMA in Afghanistan and the Ministry of the Foreign affairs have supported this program since 2018.
Why is this Program Important?
Young people need to speak for themselves. They need to decide their own future. The existence of a hierarchal system in the Afghan society where youth have always been forced to obey what the elders says without any objective has suppressed their role and their capacity to act as the leaders of today and tomorrow. The Afghan Youth Representative Program is not only an important initiative at this pivotal juncture of the country, but a milestone to influence the policies and the current peace process that would benefit not only the young generation but lead this country toward peace, security and economic development. The delegate will take the message to the UN that Afghans want an end to the war now and they want freedom, human rights and youth’s inclusion in deciding the future of their country from now on. The representative will also paint a different picture of Afghanistan in front of the global community, showing it that Afghans, including young men and women, strive for peace, and that women in the country have a lot of achievements when it comes to education, business, sports and the arts – in other words, this new generation is a partner to the international community and strives for achieving peace.
What are the Responsibilities of the Youth Delegate?
Prior to the trip to Berlin and New York, the Afghan youth delegate will travel to different provinces in Afghanistan to meet with other youth and organize round tables in order to hear their challenges, concerns and the message they want the international community to hear. Besides that, the delegate will have a discussion with youth from around the country in National Youth Jirga which will be organized by APT in the following months. The Jirga will bring 100 youths from 34 provinces in Afghanistan for a three-day event in Kabul. Additionally, the youth representative will host online campaigns on official social media pages of the program to reach out to a large number of youth in the country.
Who is the 2019 Afghan Youth Representative?
This year, APT with the support of the German Embassy in Kabul elected the second youth delegate who will travel to Germany and New York to deliver a message of peace while attending different events. Aisha Khuram is a 21-year-old Afghan woman who was born in Peshawar, Pakistan, and raised in a middle-class family. She currently lives in Kabul and was selected as the second Afghan Youth Representative to the United Nations on October 7th, 2019 by a panel of four jury members: H.E Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, H.E Peter Prugel, Germany’s Ambassador to Afghanistan; H.E Idrees Zaman, Afghanistan’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Sofia Ramyar, Executive Director of Afghans for Progressive Thinking (APT) in an open competition among three finalists in Kabul.
Aisha is in her third year of studying Law and Political Science at Kabul University. During the civil war, Aisha’s family moved to Pakistan, where she enrolled in a local school and continued her education until she returned to Afghanistan with her family in 2004. Aisha graduated from Malalai High school in Kabul in 2016. During her high school, she worked with Weesa and Afghanistan Times Newspaper. She has also worked with Kabul TV News as editor of the international news section and as a volunteer with a local organization in Kabul.
When Aisha was a child, she desired to be a doctor in the future but her ambitions changed as she grew up. The challenges that women face in Afghanistan and her own experience as a woman in the Afghan society stirred the passion in her to enter politics and continue her education in Law and Political Science. “The Afghan society and the environment has never been in favor of the young generation and this segment of society has always suffered the most. I first started working in this area when I was in high school by writing about their challenges. Learning about their suffering stirred a desire in me to step in to politics, where women are not given an opportunity. And the few who are given an opportunity are not seen as important players,” says Aisha. She hopes that the peace process will not only focus on Kabul, but reach all people across the country. “Our children who are born and raised up in war should not continue their years of living in war anymore – this situation needs to change for the entire country and peace should be for all.”
Aisha has also developed a passion for reading. In her spare time, she is reading political and fiction books and is interested in biology, history and French.