The Power of Youth: Defending youth interests and advocating for a more collaborative tomorrow

I’m Yam Atir, a public policy advocate focusing on the structural challenges facing the next generation. Banner image: Shutterstock/John Gomez
The Power of Youth: Defending youth interests and advocating for a more collaborative tomorrow
The OECD's Power of Youth series showcases the perspectives and experiences of young people who are shaping the future. Exploring topics from gender equality and education to climate and careers, the series gives a voice to young advocates and activists who we met at different events, as well as members of Youthwise, the OECD's youth advisory board. Aiming to foster the fruitful exchange of expertise and perspectives across fields to help us develop policies that integrate young peoples’ views, opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the views of the OECD.

I’m Yam Atir, a public policy advocate focusing on the structural challenges facing the next generation. I joined the OECD Youthwise 2021 programme because I believe it is important to include young people in the decision-making process. During the OECD’s Youth Week, I had the pleasure to act as the mediator at the high-level opening session entitled “Prepared for the Future?”, where we spoke about the risk of long-lasting scars in terms of young people’s career prospects and broader social and economic outcomes, including trust in government and satisfaction with democracy.

What did you want to be when you were younger and what do you do now?

I have always emphasised macro-social perspectives, and since I was a child I wanted to be involved in activities that affect our society. For the past few years, I have been an advocate for young people in the Israeli government as well as in various forums around the world. With a focus on overcoming future generations' challenges, my specialisation in youth policy and long-term policy is unique. My role during the COVID-19 crisis was to represent 400,000 young people before the Israeli government and implement an assistance package for them.

Which OECD data point or trend do you find particularly interesting on youth x recovery? Please explain why it stands out to you.

Looking at the main trends in the field of youth recovery, I find the significant role played by student and youth organisations particularly interesting; as a student representative, I have experienced first-hand the impact they can have and the tremendous contribution they can make to decision-makers. It was not only the availability of information about the state of young people, but also the ability to run active assistance initiatives that radically changed how policy-makers made decisions. I hope that this trend will continue beyond times of emergency, and that decision-makers will develop lasting partnerships with youth organisations and civil society organisations in general.

Youth organisations are contributing to societal resilience in various ways

Read the OECD Policy Response Youth and COVID-19: Response, recovery and resilience

Note: "OECD" refers to the average response across 52 respondents based in OECD countries. "Non-OECD" refers to the average response across 29 respondents based in non-OECD countries. "Total" refers to the average response of all 90 respondents: these include respondents from OECD and non-OECD countries, as well as 9 international youth organisations, which are not separately shown in this figure.

Source: OECD Survey on COVID-19 and Youth, launched in April 2020.

What is the most striking take-away from the panel conversation you attended during Youth Week?

The “Prepared for the Future?” panel was excellent proof of the fact that representatives from all sectors—both private and public—understand the importance of long-term planning and the major role youth policy-making plays in that process. However, my main take-away from the expert discussion during Youth Week is that our main challenge is now to develop more effective and innovative ways to collaborate across sectors. The global challenges facing my generation will require far more inclusive thinking than before, as well as developing global mechanisms of co-operation that we have not yet discovered. Decision-makers and policy-makers who look ahead must examine their goals not only in terms of content, but also through implementation mechanisms. The pandemic has shown us that humanity shares the same challenges, and that only cross-sectoral and collective action can make a significant impact.

Tell us about one youth-led initiative—either one that you work on, or another—that you find particularly inspiring.

During the COVID-19 crisis, I led a unique initiative called The Business of All of Us as a member of the National Union of Israeli Students. We turned to the private sector and looked for a solution to the challenges of unemployed students. After a meeting with Facebook, we realised that together we could create an effective system in which they would train the students and provide them with the tools and knowledge to build a digital infrastructure. Then, each student would be attached to a small business that has difficulty working remotely and would custom-build digital infrastructure for them. It turned out to be a success, and a particularly inspiring and creative initiative between sectors: Facebook from the private sector; the student union from the social sector; and local authorities that helped us connect with business owners from the public sector.

Find out more about the OECD's Power of Youth project

Find out more about the OECD's Power of Youth project

Find out more about the OECD's Youthwise 2021 members

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