You are here

LY Polen, a 27 year-old medical student and avid photographer was delighted and proud when awarded the winning prize at the launch of a photo exhibition in celebration of International Youth Day 2013 in Cambodia.

He explained that his photo entitled "Behind the Green Fence" was taken from the outside of a construction area in Phnom Penh. His photo articulated that "teenagers around the age of 14-18 have stopped school and moved from their hometown to struggle to earn their livings in the city." Polen's photo was chosen for its artistic depiction of the global theme: "Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward."

The United Nations Youth Task Force (UN YTF), chaired and coordinated by UNFPA, fostered the idea of a photo competition and exhibition to highlight the theme of youth migration and development. The United Nations Youth Advisory Panel, a group of young people representing a cross-section of youth organizations in Cambodia, worked closely with the UN YTF to coordinate and organize the photo competition; engaging Cambodian youth aged 15-29 years old.

A total of 57 entries from 32 photographers were received and eight finalists were selected by a judging panel. The top eight photos, chosen based on their artistic quality, unique focus on Cambodian youth, and depiction of the theme, were displayed at the launch of the photo exhibition on August 12. The overall winner, runner up, and "people's choice" awards, were sponsored by three different private companies who offered a photocamera, a smartphone with instant printer and many other prizes.

Youth migration and development was a particularly apt theme for 2013, as one in three Cambodians are between 15 and 29 years old, and 300,000 young people enter the workforce every year. Moreover, the Cambodian population is becoming more mobile, especially youth between 15-29 years, who make up three quarters (2.5 million people) of internal migrants in Cambodia.

Key Facts: Youth Migration in Cambodia

• Young people aged 10-24 years comprise about 35 percent of the total population 
• Seventy-eight percent of recent migrants are between the ages of 15-29. 
• The number of female migrants outweighs that of males.
• Internal migrants outnumber international migrants. 
• The three main motivators for youth migration are: employment, education and marriage.
• Occupations of migrants are different for women and men: 
- ♂: Construction worker, labourer, and driver. 
- ♀: Garment worker, entertainment/service worker, and small business owner 
• Young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual and reproductive health risks and gender based violence.

Creatively engaging youth through this event emphasized UNFPA's continued commitment to addressing the issues faced by youth in Cambodia especially the access to sexual and reproductive health services and rights light that Cambodia's growing ‘human capital' is its biggest asset on the path to middle-income status and a better life for all, including future generations.