Members Bondevik and Kufuor led a discussion exploring the challenges of ensuring that cultural groups are respected and able to play a full part in social and economic life, contributing to the well-being of all and the reduction of poverty. Dr. Beatriz Merino, Ombudswoman of Perú, Ricardo Henriques, Senior Researcher from the Brazil Institute of Applied Economic Research, Jean Marinat, Deputy Secretary General of the ILO, Ron Bruder, CEO of Education for Employment Foundation and Ahmed Younis, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Communications at Silatech also participated in the session moderated by The Shared Societies Project Expert Necla Tschirgi.
Panellists addressed the unequal impact of crises on groups that are marginalized on the basis of their identity and the need to develop strategies to balance this inequality. The session identified the current crisis as the result of four crises: food crisis, oil crisis, energy crisis and financial crisis, in all of which, the civilian population was the most vulnerable group.
Panelists called on government leaders to use their political will to generate mechanisms for creating employment opportunities, as they did to save the banking system. Participants also commented on the imperative of including youth “Youth are leaders of tomorrow but without empowering youth and investing in them there will be no tomorrow” Mr. Younis said. Training youth and developing their skills improves their employment opportunities and greater employment leads to a more peaceful society.
Participants in the session also highlighted the need to facilitate education based on quality rather than quantity. Lower education levels are highly correlated with exclusion from the work force.
Other key messages of the sessions included an urgent plea to build economies that serve citizens and to create shared societies based on inclusive policies that make all citizens responsible of their own common future. Only strong political will followed by democratic political actions can achieve these goals.