International Volunteer Day (IVD) is a chance for individual volunteers, communities and organizations to promote their contributions to peace and development at local, national and international levels. On IVD 2013, we not only celebrate and recognize volunteerism in all its facets, but also pay special tribute to the contribution of youth volunteers in global peace and sustainable human development. People in over 80 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe are celebrating IVD today with volunteer activities, parades, volunteer fairs, group clean-ups, blood donations, rallies, conferences, exhibitions, fundraising, workshops and other volunteer recognition events.
For IVD 2013 we celebrate globally that young people act as agents of change in their communities.
During my first year at the helm of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, I have been extremely fortunate to visit dozens of UNV-supported projects around the world, where UN Volunteers, many of them young women and men, have been at the forefront of global peace and sustainable human development efforts, says Richard Dictus, UNV Executive Coordinator. Not only have these volunteers brought real lasting changes through their actions, but they are also having a tremendous impact by serving as role models for other young people. UN Youth Volunteers are true inspiration in action. Through volunteering, they are paving the way for a future that we all want.
Take Jungeun Sohn, a UN Youth Volunteer working in Nicaragua. Jungeun states that I am proudly working for womens economic empowerment with UN Women in Nicaragua. My job is to support four counterparts working in the field: rural women in need of their own land, trade unionists who advocate for labour rights of domestic workers, women seeking to reform social security law, and women and men working to develop a model for good entrepreneurial practices on gender equality. Working with and for these women has inspired me in many ways. It has made me question what the reasons are for gender inequality, why it takes so many different forms, what could be effective and realistic solutions, and whether there is anything I can do about it.
See a photo slide show of Jungeun and other volunteers
Visit www.volunteeractioncounts.org for stories of actions being taken on International Volunteer Day.
How to get involved
UN Volunteers from all over the world are sharing how they are making a difference on the IVD campaign website: www.volunteeractioncounts.org/en/ivd-2013/ivd2013-actions.html. And on Twitter, UNV invites you to use the hashtag #actioncounts to share photos and messages to showcase how people are volunteering and creating the future we want. Volunteers are key to the efforts of the UN system in eradicating poverty and achieving peace and sustainable development. In 2012, more than 6,800 UN Volunteers were assigned to UN development projects and peace-keeping efforts; over 11,000 people volunteered with the UNV Online Volunteer service; and an additional 57,000 local volunteers were mobilized through UNV efforts in countries around the world.