LAHORE - The three-day South Asian Regional Youth Conference 2014 (SARYC’14) held under the auspices of the Youth Advocacy Network (YAN) Pakistan at the University of Central Punjab (UCP), Lahore concluded on Wednesday. The final session was chaired by MNA Shaista Pervez Malik who addressed the audience and congratulated the organisers for managing such an important event.

Around 100 young people from SAARC countries including India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Pakistan participated in the event and shared their knowledge and experiences with each other.

The topics discussed at the conference included Globalisation and Youth-led Development, Peace and Intercultural Dialogue, Achieving Good Governance & Accountability, Environmental protection, HIV/AIDS, Gender Equality & Ending Systematic Inequalities, Empowering Marginalised and Key Youth Population, Comprehensive Sexuality Education and SRHR and National Laws and Obstacles in South Asia. Shaista Malik said the future lied with the youth whose role was extremely important for the growth of all the countries in the region. She also appreciated the enthusiasm of the participants and the overall spirit and optimism that prevailed at the venue.

Fasahat ul Hassan, Chair-SARYC’14, said that it was extremely important to include the voice of youth in future planning and strategy-making as they were the leaders of tomorrow. He said there was a perception that the countries of South Asia have not been able to make significant progress on SAARC charter. “We want to dispel this impression and show it to the people that the people of this region are coming closer to each other,” he added.

The conference gave the participants an opportunity to know about the commitments made by different South Asian governments under the international agreements on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD). Besides, it announced the “Lahore Charter of Demand” drafted after elaborate consultations among the participants and seeking input from all stakeholders.

The salient features of the charter included setting of targets and devising of action plans to achieve the goals of ensuring good governance and accountability, streamlining policies related to migration, adopting a multidimensional approach to reduce poverty, promoting peace and intercultural dialogue, campaigning for environmental protection, bridging digital divide, fighting diseases such as HIV and AIDS, promoting gender equality and ending systematic inequalities in South Asian countries.