News

Youth at Risk in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

7 June 2011

UNFPA Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Istanbul, 07 June 2011 –  UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, launched a Youth at Risk photography and multimedia exhibition today to call attention to the need to invest in young people and to accelerate action to meet the rights of young people to health, information and education. The exhibition also seeks amplify the voices of vulnerable youth, whose voices and perspectives are not often heard.

“Investments in young people, women’s empowerment and reproductive health, especially for young adolescent girls, are critical to boosting countries’ productive capacity and accelerating national and community development,” said Thea Fierens, Director of UNFPA’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central at the regional conference “Invest in Youth – Path to Accelerated Development” organized by UNFPA in Istanbul, where a “soft launch” of the exhibition took place.

“One often doesn’t think of poverty in the context of Eastern Europe,” continued Ms. Fierens, “However, it is so very important that as we approach a world population of 7 billion persons, we keep the most vulnerable youth in mind – those who are unemployed and are homeless, those who do not have formal education, those who are at risk of sexual trafficking, and those who do not have access to sexual and reproductive health services,” she said.

The Youth at Risk multimedia and advocacy project involved four countries, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine and documents the challenging lives and aspirations of young people, the difficulties and hopes they have. The exhibition includes a series of stories, multimedia features and photography by award-winning photographers from Western and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Though the subjects of this exhibition are in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the risks are common to youth around the world. “This project helps raise awareness of the risks that youth face – risks that have no country boundaries,” said UNFPA Assistant Representative in Armenia, Garik Hayrapetyan. “The difficulty and problems that youth at risk face are universal,” adds Nuzhat Ehsan, UNFPA Ukraine Representative.

“The arts and the visual media can be a powerful way to engage people at a personal level, raise awareness and bring about change,” said Thea Fierens. “For this reason, we chose this vehicle as one of many to contribute to policy dialogue and advocacy on youth development at the national and regional level,” she added.

The photography and materials will be used for advocacy and awareness-raising on youth health and development by UNFPA and its partners in the region and around the globe.  The materials – in the format of an internet exhibition, video presentation, mounted photography exhibition, a digital and printed book and posters can also be made available to public, private and community institutions on demand and translated as needed.  In addition to Istanbul, exhibitions in 2011 are planned in Bosnia and Herzegovina, London and Kyrgyzstan.

Exhibition photographers are available for interviews. Publicity photographs are available for publication.

UNFPA works with national partners to facilitate the development of adolescent and youth within the context of poverty reduction. At the programme level, UNFPA advocates for an essential package of social protection interventions for adolescents and youth, including access to sexual and reproductive health services. UNFPA supports building the capacity of young people, their networks and organizations to have a stronger voice in policy dialogue and decision-making processes.

For more information please contact:

Raquel Wexler
Telephone: 1 212 297-5073
Email: wexler@unfpa.org