After four years of discussion involving some 60 consultations around the world, a new global youth movement called the Youth Employment Summit Campaign was launched in Alexandria, Egypt on September 11, 2002. Known by its acronym, the YES Campaign launch, co-chaired by Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, the Egyptian first lady, and former US President Bill Clinton, drew 1,600 delegates from 120. Through a system of YES Country Networks, the campaign is a youth-led drive currently underway in over 83 countries.
The population of young people aged between 15 and 24 is now at over 1 billion. Eighty-five percent of them live in developing countries where job prospects are thin at best. With 1.5 children waiting to flood the labour markets just behind them, the only hope for absorption is in the enterprise development sector.
In the Millennium Declaration adopted by the General Assembly in September 2000, Heads of State and Government resolved to “develop and implement strategies that give young people everywhere a real chance to find decent and productive work”.
The YES Campaign works with national and global partners to devise programmes that seek to:
- Develop capacity of youth to lead national youth employment initiatives
- Promote youth employment to address key development challenges
- Build local coalitions to develop national strategies addressing youth unemployment
The YES 83 YES country networks are a unique platform to try and achieve these goals. Since its launch in 2002, the YES Campaign has validated the concept that young people, if given access to the right resources, can effectively craft their own advancement opportunities.
In 2002 in Alexandria Egypt, the decade-long YES Campaign was launched with the aim of tackling youth employment as one of the most serious problems facing the world.
In 2003 in Hyderabad, India, the Campaign moved to its next level of identifying sectors for employment and five sectors were identified and discussed – renewable energy, water and sanitation, computer technology, rural development, and HIV/AIDS.
In 2004 in Veracruz, Mexico, the YES Campaign was ready to showcase the work of its Country Networks juxtaposed with existing expert agencies work and that of NGOs and governments and it was a summit featuring action and ready to move beyond conversation and debate.