They were dubbed as the "we" generation -- selfish and materialistic youngsters focused only on their needs. But statistics dispute this notion. Worldwide young people volunteer 2.4 billion hours annually, helping in elderly homes, orphanages and community centres, among others.
This photo gallery documents the invaluable contribution provided by young people to promote volunteerism worldwide.
Read related articles in our special focus on youth and volunteering
Volunteers helping the victims of the hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah are finding it extremely difficult to reach affected villages and towns due to indiscriminate bombing. According to volunteers, the Israeli army has been shelling their routes, hitting civilians, humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. Such life-threatening situations can easily dampen spirits and discourage anyone. But volunteers on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border are committed – to the extent of endangering their lives – in providing emergency relief and evacuation support to the displaced and injured.
This photo gallery documents the invaluable humanitarian assistance provided by these courageous volunteers, most of them local people - and in some cases refugees and victims themselves.
Read related articles in our special coverage of the Middle East crisis
Volunteers play a key role in promoting public health and providing health care, including prevention of epidemics such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. From participating in community sanitation campaigns to donating time and resources for building hospitals, voluntary efforts can be seen in myriad forms.
In 2000, ten million people volunteered to support the immunization of 550 million children as part of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Most of them were concerned citizens, volunteering in their own communities. They gave their time to ensure that children reported to immunization stations, were properly documented, and received the oral vaccine. The total value of the support provided by volunteers was estimated at US$ 10 billion, well beyond the reach of governments or international and national organizations.
The high priority accorded to Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
“Promote gender equality and empowerment of women” – is an affirmation of the international support for women’s rights and gender equality as core values of development. International Women's Day is an opportunity to assess how much progress we have made in this direction and how far there is to go. And it is also an opportunity to focus on women's unique contributions and the problems and opportunities that they face all over the world.
This slideshow is a compilation of resources highlighting the role of women volunteers in empowering other women, and the challenges they face in promoting gender equality and volunteering.
Read our collection of stories and resources on this topic
Immediately after any disaster, volunteers - often the members of the local communities - play a crucial role in rescuing the survivors and bringing emergency relief and medical aid to them. As relief and aid arrive from other places, volunteers' responsibilities extend to post-disaster recovery and rehabilitation activities. In this slideshow, we bring you a snapshot of various roles volunteers play in response to disasters.
Read our collection of stories and resources that shows volunteerism to be a key element in providing emergency relief to disaster survivors and in post-disaster reconstruction.
Volunteers play a key role in halting and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS. Volunteers – many of them themselves living with HIV/AIDS – work with people living with HIV/AIDS and local institutions to develop prevention, care and support activities.
This slideshow shows you the different ways in which volunteers are contributing to the achievement of MDG 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.