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Vientiane, August 2012.- The Lao Youth Union (LYU) with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other development partners is celebrating the International Youth Day with a series of events to highlight the contributions that young people are making to society and to advance their full and effective participation in development.

The theme chosen for International Youth Day 2012 - Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth - is a global call to action for young men and women, as well as other stakeholders around the world, to develop and engage in partnerships with and for youth towards building a better world. International Youth Day 2012 provides an important opportunity to look at one of the country's most valuable assets: the youth. Ensuring adolescents and young people grow healthy, educated and skilled will determine the future of Lao PDR.

The celebration in Lao PDR started on August 10 with a forum involving youths and parliamentarians. The activity, organized jointly with the National Assembly, aimed to provide an opportunity for young people to discuss and advocate for youth-related issues with policy-makers as well as to provide parliamentarians with a firsthand exposure to the realities faced by young people in the country. The participants had the chance to express their perspectives on youth-related issues including education, health, drugs and opportunities for participation.

The historic meeting saw the participation of 15 parliamentarians and over 45 young males and females between 16 and 24 years old.

A young girl who took part in the dialogue said, "The participation of young people in planning and decision making is essential for the development of our country. As we represent more than half of the population in Laos, we are called to play our part and support our country"

Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA's Representative, said "When societies embrace youth as partners, we improve our chances of finding solutions to our most pressing problems. Today on International Youth Day we call on national leaders to engage, empower and listen to young people. We have to commit to ensure that in Lao PDR every young person's potential is fulfilled"

As part of the celebrations, a Youth Camp was held on August 17 at the Lao Youth Union in Vientiane. The event saw the participation of around 500 youths from Vientiane and 4 other districts of the capital.

It included an exhibition of booths displaying initiatives for the youth in Lao PDR, drawing competition, sports, traditional games and dances, quiz contests and presentations by young people.

On August 29 a Workshop on Adolescents Sexual Reproductive Health was held in Vientiane. The event was aimed to sensitize development partners on basic SRH issues regarding young people. It was attended by government officials from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Sports as well as the Lao National Commission for the Advancement of Women, the Lao Women's Union, the Lao Youth Union and members of the civil society.

The final event was a consultation workshop on the "National Youth Development Strategy, 2012-2020" developed by the LYU in consultation with its networks at the provincial level and line ministries. The workshop was held on 25th September, with the aim to obtain comments from partners on the Youth Strategy and a way forward, as well as to strengthen the understanding of the role of Lao Youth Union and the different sectors in youth development.

For further information: Mr. Diego De La Rosa. Advocacy and Communications Officer. UNFPA. Tel: (021) 315547. Mobile: (020) 59936509. E-mail :