Very happy to be in Khujad amongst the dynamic young men and women of Sughd region of Tajikistan!
I would like to thank Mr. Anvar Yakubi, Deputy Chairman of the Sughd region; Ms. Dilnoza Ahmadzoda, Deputy Head of Committee of Youth Affairs and Sports and Mr. Dilshod Jurazoda, Director of Republican Centre for Formation and Development of Enterprenurship for joining the event and for the excellent cooperation with UNDP over past 25 years.
UNDP started is operations in Tajikistan 25 years ago when some of you were not even born! Tajikistan was a different country and world was a different place and both have gone through massive changes in so many ways. For example, when your grandparents and parents were young, they never thought one day human being could walk on the moon, that you could send a message or transfer money across the world in a spilt of a second through internet, that a surgeon sitting in India could remotely help a doctor in rural Tajikistan and help conduct surgery, that you could watch movies on your phone ! So, what was just an imagination just 20-40 years back is a reality now. In our 25th anniversary we want to not just look into our past collaboration but we want to hear how you imagine the world in next 25 years and how UNDP can support that vision.
Nearly, 66% of the population of Tajikistan is young, nearly 150,000 young people enter the labour market every year but many remain unemployed. In 2018, nearly 30% of young people 15-24 years were not in job, education or training (NEET), and 90% of whom were women.
You are living in a world full of information, opportunities and possibilities, your creativity and dynamism is needed to solve the challenges of inequality, war, conflict, climate change. UNDP is committed to working with youth as partners and also as our priority target group for empowerment
UNDP is working with you and for you to provide opportunities for a better future on three fronts, first we are providing tools to help young people find decent jobs and support in new ways of doing business which opens more market such as digital enterprensuship. We are promoting social entrerpresnurship which help young people not just start business that make money but also that has social good for communities. Just in 2019 UNDP supported more than 700 young men and women in different cities and districts of Tajikistan to participate in innovation project contests, learn from well - known business men, pitch their idea or benefit from business mentors, such as Startup Chaikhana, Business Constructor, Accelerator Entrepreneur 2030 and other events, on well-known entrepreneurs, etc. As a result of Choykhana platform, 14 business projects were launched and awardees also attended international innovation and startup conferences and venture platforms and presented their projects, today two such participants will speak at the YouthTalk.
UNDP is supporting establishment of national network of IT/digital professionals, to promote digital entrepreneurship and digital employment among young people of Tajikistan. UNDP is partnering with Russian , Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan venture companies and platforms.
UNDP is helping in connecting urban youth with their peers in rural and remote areas to promote exchange of ideas for example here in Khujand city we started a digital start up school in May 2019 jointly with the Administration of Sughd Region and successful entrepreneurs of the region. This year 30 young men and women were selected to participate in 12 weeks trainings during June-August 2019 on IT based business ideas. 60 young people including 30 females and 5 young people with disabilities took part in GBAO in trainings and mentorship programs where they pitched 6 business ideas, 2 of the most prospective business ideas will now be presented in Moscow and Kazan business platforms.
But UNDP’s support to Young people is not just limited to jobs. Youth is central to our support to ensure gender equality in the country. As young generation, eager to break away from old to new – you must also engage in removing bottlenecks that come in the way of progress and all forms of equality. World - wide, one in three women is subjected to violence and abuse. In many developing countries 1 in 9 girls are married before the age of 15. Every year, 7.3 million girls under the age of 18 give birth. I call on all the young men and women in the audience to not remain silent when you see injustice, I call on all of you to be champions of tolerance, equality between men and women, equal rights of people with disabilities, etc. We are at a unique time in history—with more than half of the population under the age of 25, you can be the driving force to break stereotypes that allow for inequality. UN in Tajikistan will soon launch Spotlight Initiative to address sexual violence against women and girls and I hope that you will actively engage in this initiative.
Third, we are bringing young people right to the heart of peace and security following the historic UN Security Council resolution on Youth, Peace and Security, we are engaging with Tajik youth for social cohesion.
You as young people have most to gain from safer, more stable and more prosperous future.