Delegate: Mr. Ramiz Bakhtiar
66. Mr. Bakhtiar (Afghanistan), speaking as a youth delegate, said that the agenda item under discussion was extremely relevant to his country not only as a social development priority for the Government but also for the young generation. Notwithstanding the devastation and losses caused by four decades of conflict and terrorism, his generation was committed to playing a constructive role in building a democratic society in a country that stood up for human dignity and the rights of its most marginalized groups. More than 1 million people in Afghanistan, including youth, had disabilities. Their need for education, employment and health-care services must be addressed without delay. For his part,
born and raised in a remote rural village far from any centre of education, he wished to continue to live and work in his country. The Afghan people were fighting persistently to free the country from the shackles of war. They had shared pain, visions and ambitions. They dreamed of building a prosperous country and were working to be the creators of that bright future. Having served in the past in sectors ranging from the media and civil society to the private sector, young people had recently taken up leadership positions in the Government.
67. In 2002, women and girls were almost completely barred from entering educational institutions. But, currently, 9.2 million children, of whom 39 per cent were girls, were enrolled in schools. The investment in education had led to profound social development. An emboldened generation of activists, teachers, journalists, lawyers, political leaders and artists was seeking to improve the country. That development [*11*] process must be sustained. More than 70 per cent of Afghans were under the age of 30. Young people were
in the majority and their voices needed to be amplified. If neglected, they might be driven towards extremism and radicalization. Youth participation in social and political processes was therefore a precondition for social development and sustainable peace. Thousands of
candidates, including youth and women, were running for the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Among them was a 30-year-old Sikh, whose father, previously a candidate, had been killed by a suicide bomb in July 2018. Nevertheless, his candidacy was a clear
manifestation of the emergence of a tolerant Afghanistan, committed to democracy, diversity and equality. The inclusion of youth in decision-making at all levels was not a choice but a must for securing a future of prosperity.
UN Doc.: A/C.3/73/SR.3