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CSOCD59 Side Event: A Socially-Just COVID-19 Response for Youth

11 February 2021 @ 8:30 am - 11:00 am

59th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development (CSOCD59): Side-Event on A Socially-Just COVID-19 Response for Youth

DATE AND TIME: Thursday, February 11th from 8:30 am – 9:45 am(Eastern Standard Time)


With less than ten years to meet 169 sustainable development targets and even less time to meaningfully address the impending climate crisis, the 59th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development is a crucial opportunity to address the distinct needs of youth, compounded by new challenges around COVID-19.

The International Relations Students’ Association of McGill University (IRSAM) has identified the following themes around sustainable development with limited progress for youth: gaps in access to technology, a socially-just COVID-19 response, the role of technology in democracies, the criminalization of COVID-19 guidelines, as well as youth homelessness, child welfare and child protection.

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, remote learning has become a common alternative in several countries where inadequate access to technology hinders learning outcomes and prevents youth from acquiring the technical skills that have become necessary globally. Disruptions to education and training, unemployment, and income loss have also increasingly impacted them due to a lack of distinct labour and social protection for youth—a group that has been historically vulnerable to labour exploitation. In particular, youth are over-represented in part-time, casual, contract informal and precarious work. As living costs have steadily risen during the pandemic, policymakers often overlook the lack of adequate employer-paid sick leave benefits and poor working conditions, favouring penalties for non-compliance with public health guidelines instead. Starkly high numbers of homeless youth represent the failure of eroding social protection systems that have disproportionately impacted the wellbeing of vulnerable groups.


Our proposed side event, titled: “A Socially Just COVID-19 Response for Youth” seeks to highlight and amplify the voices of youth and youth allies in multi-regional and multi-sectoral dimensions. It also seeks to increase awareness about the obstacles facing youth during the COVID-19 pandemic by presenting multiple perspectives on the topic and discussing how governments, organizations, and various institutions can respond to their needs.

The International Relations Students’ Association of McGill University (IRSAM) is joined by partners, the Center for Community Regeneration and Development and the African Center for Human Advancement, Social and Community Development as partners in hosting the event.

The objectives of the side event include:

  • To examine the rise and increase in issues facing youth during the pandemic globally through a multi-sectoral and multi-regional approach, including remarks from youth, regional development organizations, women’s rights organizations and other advocacy groups.
  • To outline the need for action concerning issues that disproportionately affect youth, including the mental health crisis, addiction, unemployment and labour exploitation, incarceration, homelessness, and inadequate and unaffordable access to healthcare.
  • To present and discuss approaches to addressing the challenges young people are increasingly experiencing during the pandemic, and to impel the importance of taking action in regions affected by COVID-19.

The outcomes of this event will include multi-stakeholder and multiregional collaboration amongst stakeholders in civil society on the challenges facing youth during this pandemic. In collectively articulating a socially just response to the pandemic that considers the distinct needs of youth, the event will aid in the review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups, specifically the World Programme of Action for Youth, and promote increased awareness of youth issues amongst attendees.


This event will take place during a 75-minute period and consist of an opening segment, remarks from each speaker, interactive discussions including participants and a short closing segment.

The tentative programme for this event will include remarks by Opeyemi Marcellina Aderinto – Executive Director for the African Centre for Human Advancement social and Community Development, Patrick Maloum – Coordinator at the African Network of Young Leaders For Peace and Sustainable Development, and Sahar Jafrani – Executive Director at the Youth Institute for Health & Development. These remarks will be followed by a presentation of Policy Recommendations by IRSAM Youth Advisory Delegation and a guided discussion session with participants on a socially-just COVID-19 response for youth.

In collectively articulating a socially just response to the pandemic that considers the distinct needs of youth, the event will aid in the review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups, specifically the World Programme of Action for Youth.


Julia Anderson is the Chief Executive Officer for the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH). She has over 15 years of senior and executive-level experience in international development, not-for-profits, civil society, human rights and gender equality. Julia works closely with multiple stakeholders on international development policy-related issues, from Canadian and global decision-makers to young leaders. In 2019, Julia spearheaded the shaping of a renewed collective vision by Canada’s global health sector that resulted in a $14-billion, 10-year investment by the Government of Canada. As CanWaCH CEO, she continues to champion bold, innovative – and even disruptive – approaches to advancing the health and rights of women and girls around the world. Julia holds a Master of Arts degree in Canadian and Indigenous Studies from Trent University and an Executive Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of Windsor Law School. Julia grew up in Grande Prairie Alberta but now lives with her partner and five kids in Peterborough, Ontario.

Juliette Fazekas has been based in New Delhi since 2018. As Project Manager on Youth Advocacy, her work is to carry the voices of Youth on the international stage.

Maloum Patrick is an activist of human rights, writer, and a specialist on governance and peacebuilding programs. In 2017 he was awarded the Public Peace Prize in the category of committed in nonviolence and reconciliation. He is also the coordinator of the Pan-African network called the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development. Under the leadership of that platform, he coordinates the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition in Africa which is made up of about 500 organizations.

Opeyemi Marcellina Aderinto is one of Africa’s emerging young leaders and a speaker. As the Executive Director of the African Centre for Human Advancement, Social and Community Development and Business Development Manager at Dataworks Analytics and Consultancy Services, she promotes “the youth in me” and is driven by her passion for youth and community development. Prior to that she was the Country Director AFYIDEF, Former Registrar at ASDIR, also former Executive Assistant / Public Relations Officer to the Nigerian Representative of the African Union ECOSOCC and a Member of the Social Affairs Cluster of African Union Economic Social and Cultural Council. She was also an Assistant Lecturer, Department of Mass Communication, Dorben Polytechnic, Bwari Abuja from 2014 to 2018 and Cooperate Image DMFB as well as the Coordinator of Irish Academy of Public Relations in Dublin. She was also the Budget Manager, Peer to Peer Facebook Global Digital Challenge Project in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Opeyemi obtained a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Mass Communication and PGD from the National Open University of Nigeria, ND and HND from the Federal Polytechnic Offa Kwara state.

Sahar Jafrani is the Executive Director & Founder at the Institute for Youth Health and Development (IYHD), a young public health-focused non-profit organization that works to improve the health and wellbeing of racialized, immigrant, and newcomer young people through impactful programming, advocacy, engaging youth in research, knowledge translation, and innovation. She is an activist and internationally recognized multidisciplinary storyteller whose professional background outside of IYHD has included working across the public and private sectors with local, national, and global human rights organizations and at the intersections of technology and social impact.


If you have any questions about the event or have accessibility needs, please contact Eyitayo Kunle-Oladosu at [email protected].



11 February 2021
8:30 am - 11:00 am
Event Category: