KUWAIT: To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, United Nations in Kuwait launched on Sunday the Young Ambassadors initiative under the auspices of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

Tarek El-Sheikh, UN Secretary General Representative and Resident Coordinator Conference on Sustainable Development in Kuwait, said: "The Young Ambassadors initiative is to shed light on the principles called for by the Charter of the United Nations and to follow them in our work and daily technical, developmental and humanitarian cooperation with local partners."

He added: "Tolerance, equality, respect for diversity - we cannot achieve this without remembering and working to spread a culture of tolerance and equality between boys and girls in rights and duties, and respect for diversity between religions, races, cultures and societal structure among children, whether at home, at school or in the community setting, as well as in the workplace."

Sheikh affirmed that the young ambassadors will have the opportunity to learn how to apply these important principles of the UN Charter and the International Covenant on Human Rights in practice in the work environment and in our cooperation programs with governmental and community institutions and entities. "Our current world needs tolerance more than ever before. It needs sympathy, affection and mercy, and for boys and girls to be cooperative, united and equal in developing their countries and spreading the culture of human rights to be truly ambassadors of sustainable development," he noted.

Meanwhile, Britain's Ambassador to Kuwait Belinda Lewis stated: "The perceptions that people form at a young age about women and girls can be relevant to gender-based violence. If women and girls are seen as being weaker, less capable, not as brave, lacking in leadership abilities, then they can be regarded as having less to contribute to society. They risk being seen as less important, less worthy and of less value than others."

She indicated that people should recognize that they are all equal and we all have a contribution to make, regardless of gender, age, nationality, wealth, hoping that this Young Ambassadors Initiative will help encourage her, her team and young people to be more open minded and welcome challenges and new ideas.

Ambassador of Canada to Kuwait Aliya Mawani indicated that this program is about supporting all young ambassadors to become the most effective advocates they can be for a just and equitable world; "one in which each of us has an equal opportunity to fulfill and contribute our full potential".  "When everyone in society participates equally, communities are more prosperous and more secure. Basically, everyone benefits. Many women and girls are often held back from full participation in society, be it due to history, culture, stereotypes, or the belief that we are somehow of less value than men and thus have less to offer," she said.

Mawani pointed out that diplomacy can be a powerful tool for making change, noting that the young ambassadors will get insights into "real world" diplomacy by embassies and international institutions, adding: "We face complex challenges, and we need your voices, your ideas and your action. Experience is extremely important, often the older and more experienced we get, the more challenges we see and we can lose some of the bravery and creativity that it takes to make change and to do the right thing when it's difficult. That's why your role, your voices, your ideas and your questions are so important."