Around 30% of the Brazilian population is composed of youth between the ages of 15 and 29, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
Basic rights such as access to healthcare, education, and culture are among the benefits desired by this important segment of the population, according to a study by the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Support Service (Sebrae) and the Citizenship Institute.
The study, which involved 3,500 youth from urban and rural areas in 25 state and the Federal District, also reveals that violence is what worries them the most – 27%. Employment, with 26%, runs a close second.
These issues, as well as citizenship, drugs, youth participation, and opportunities for young people subjected to exclusion, are addressed in the National Youth Plan.
The plan seeks to formulate government policies for youth and turn these policies into a responsability of the State. The plan was drafted with the help of youth, beginning with 33 public hearings held throughout the country by the Chamber of Deputies’ Special Commission on Government Policies for Youth between 2003 and 2004.
Representatives of organizations from civil society and experts were also involved in the preparation of the document.
In the opinion of the president of the National Youth Council, Regina Novaes, the plan has sufficient breadth to deal with the chief problems currently faced by Brazilian youth.
"The plan is an ample instrument touching on issues ranging from basic rights, such as the right to education and a quality of life appropriate to their stage of development, to more sensitive, specific issues, such as youngsters who suffer from deficiencies," she underscored.
On November 10-11, Novaes coordinated a meeting in Brasília of the National Youth Council to discuss the National Youth Plan. More debates and public hearings will be scheduled by the Chamber of Deputies’ Special Commission on Youth, in order for the Plan to be ready in March, 2006.
"The goal is to qualify the plan by March, introducing more details and more argumentation for it to be submitted to a vote and, once it has become law, to serve as a landmark in the lives of Brazilian youth."
For the president of the Council, one of the prerequisites for the policy to work is to consider youth as a segment in its own right and ensure that the needs of youth are included in the budget.
"What is going to matter in advancing this [policy] is to transform these questions into budget matters as well, so that, when it comes time to draw up the budget for the nation and the ministries and to determine priorities, youth will be assigned priority, too," she contended.