ACP YPN – College of Europe Roundtable on Future EU-ACP relations: Youth & Diversity

On 16th March 2017, ACP YPN and the College of Europe Development Committee (DevCoE) held a joint Roundtable on ‘Future EU-ACP relations: youth and diversity’ at the College of Europe, Bruges. Mariana Puche, CoE DevCoE chaired the roundtable with Yentyl Williams, Founder of ACP YPN, expert in EU-ACP relations and alumna of the College of Europe (2012-2013) and Dana Schurmans, ACP YPN Digital Inclusion Expert.

Yentyl raised the debate on ‘why should we discuss youth and diversity alongside the topic of future EU-ACP relations?’ Firstly, Yentyl explained the historic nature of the EU-ACP, which dates beyond the formal partnership of the Lomé and Cotonou agreements but upon hundreds of years of history, as well as the huge nature of the partnership involving 28 and 79 member states on each side respectively. Secondly, Yentyl also underlined that youth have been left out of this partnership besides the legally binding Cotonou agreement, particularly Article 26 whereby the EU and ACP make commitments on ‘youth cooperation’. Thirdly, she underlined, in the context of the College of Europe, it is important to mainstream diversity into the partnership and to establish a College of Europe ACP scholarship.

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Dana Schurmans’ presentation highlighted that in today’s digital age, there are plenty of opportunities waiting to be unlocked to benefit both EU and ACP countries, including for students.  One of the main opportunities lies in the digital education, however there are risks of digital inequalities for disadvantaged youth communities, on a global and local level. From the digital inclusion perspective, diversity includes socio-demographic profiles, access, attitudes, skills, self-assessment skills, use, diversified use, and social support to different groups. She draws the following conclusions: (i) it is not possible to define a prototype of the digitally excluded young person; (ii) social exclusion does not mean by definition digital exclusion, and vice versa; (iii) digital media can lead to empowerment, but new risks of digital inequalities exist amongst youth. For these reasons, she put forward some policy framework recommendations to invest in ‘digital chances’ at the micro level, the potential of the community at the meso-level and horizontal and transversal policies at the macro level.

The Roundtable was concluded with the main recommendation to follow up with the issues raised in the discussions in a joint letter to the College of Europe governing body to request that EU member state selection committees are more diversity sensitive (ethnic, social, and gender diversity) and that the College establishes a College of Europe scholarship.

Contact & follow Yentyl Williams via LinkedIn or Twitter

Contact & follow Dana Schurman via LinkedIn or Twitter

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ACP YPN Founder is Finalist for Commonwealth Youth Leader 2017

On the 15th March 2017, Yentyl Williams, Founder and President of ACP YPN, was presented her award as finalist for the Africa and Europe region as Commonwealth Young Leader in Development 2017. The award was presented by Baronness Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Yentyl was awarded due to her initiative to create ACP YPN in order to empower young people to take an active role in policy-making processes. By creating the ACP YPN platform to mainstream youth perspectives, Yentyl bridges the gap between international institutions (European Parliament and institutions), diplomats (ACP Ambassadors) and youth, in line with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions. See the press release here.

Yentyl’s application particularly stood out due to the legacy she created by bringing youth into EU-ACP relations, particularly by founding the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly Youth Forums. As a young professional in EU-ACP affairs, Yentyl regularly attended the JPA sessions but quickly noticed that youth were generally absent from the exchange. Despite the unique parliamentary forum being in existence for more than 50 years, youth were never actively engaged at the JPA. Yentyl changed this by starting the Youth Forum as a side-event at the JPA, and by teaming up with international partners: the national youth councils of the host country, the Commonwealth Youth Council, the European Youth Forum and the JPA Secretariat. So far, two sessions have been held in Windhoek, Namibia. The second JPA Youth Forum was held in Nairobi, Kenya, where Bora Kamwanya, ACP YPN Policy and Advocacy Officer, led the Youth Forum. The JPA Secretariat has since institutionalized the Youth Forum and it shall now take place at all upcoming JPAs, twice a year, rotating between the EU and ACP regions.

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Yentyl’s application also stood out because of the expertise she demonstrated in EU-ACP affairs. Yentyl was the youngest expert ever appointed to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for the Green Paper on the Future of EU ACP relations. Yentyl has shown consistent dedication to EU-ACP affairs and this is evident in her academic publications, her public speaking and, of course, her motivation to make sure more youth – both EU and ACP youth – can benefit and learn more about the EU-ACP partnership. Other initiatives include the ACP YPN Ambassador Roundtables, whereby young people meet with ACP Ambassadors in Brussels for a Roundtable and networking reception at the ACP embassies.

Yentyl is extremely grateful that since founding ACP YPN she has been surrounded by a dedicated team who are advancing the aims and the goals of ACP YPN to mainstream youth in policy-making; and as well, that EU and ACP officials are equally keen on opening spaces for young people to be involved in the partnership – in particular the ACP Secretariat; the European Economic and Social Committee; and the European Youth Forum. Yentyl’s message to youth on winning the award was poignant: “Dreams do come true and you can be the change you want to see”.

If you would like to join our activities, write to us at acpypn@gmail.com

Contact & follow Yentyl Williams via LinkedIn or Twitter

Want to know more about ACP YPN mission and goals?

Want to know more, have a question? Write to us at: acpypncomm@gmail.com

Keep up-to-date with ACP YPN via the Website | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr|Youtube

 

ACP YPN at the African Union Permanent Mission on International Women’s Day

On the 8th March 2017, Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Programme Manager on EU Relations and SDG5 Expert, spoke on behalf of ACP YPN panel at the African Union Permanent Mission’s celebrations for the International Women’s Day around the topic ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in the Youth’.

Fabrequette’s pivotal issues were rooted in the statistics on African youth: in fact, Africa has the youngest population – indeed 226 million youths in Africa are aged between 15 and 24. Plus, African diaspora in Europe represents the 2% of the total population. According to her, ‘Africa and diaspora should invest one in the other reciprocally’ following the lead of no discrepancies in the ACP-EU agreements. Moreover, the opinion of the ACP YPN panellist was to invest in diaspora and African innovation in order to empower youth and women through digitalisation and entrepreneurship. Particularly, Celine Fabrequette shared the conclusions of the Youth Consultation from the 9th AU Gender Pre-Summit and of the GIMAC meeting (Gender is My Agenda Campaign). In her opinion, The binomial is entrepreneurship and finance: a key element shall be accountability for youth, in order to develop a platform to collect objectives in continued dialogue with politics and States.

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The ACP YPN’s intervention framed the leitmotif of the whole celebration: aspirations 3 and 6 of the Agenda 2063 for the coordination of sustainable and durable solutions, above all for African women. As Philip Youssou stated, Agenda 2063 starts with ‘We’ towards the development of the African continent towards unity, integration and fulfilment of full potential of its girls and boys. In order to have a powerful and true economic and social advancement, Africa shall be led by its own people and, above all, by its women. Agenda 2063 will require conscious and constant commitment in order to foster mobilisation, self-reliance, change in attitudes and mind-set.

Doctor Charmaine Gomes, UN Development Programme, stressed how education since primary school is actually a key element to reduce inequality in treatment for women. Indeed, educated women have better maternal health and economic opportunities: poverty of information is one of the main causes of the gender gap preventing women to access to media and new technologies.

Ifeyinwa Elueze, Digital Communication Expert and member of the African Diaspora Network in Europe, questioned the African Union officials on the upcoming strategies to invest in its own youth and, above all, in young women. In her opinion, there is a lack of communication and inclusion of youth in the decision-making process. Africa is facing a big skill-gap in the management field: it is alarming, since the diaspora youth are highly skilled and educated, and Africa is actually losing a huge pool of youth talent. Ifeyinwa Elueze proposed five points to the AU officials in order to start boosting the African youth potential: 1) reinforcing African youth positions; 2) diaspora organisations fulfilment; 3) investments in activities to develop a diaspora talent database; 4) open welcoming houses for diaspora students; and 5) the instauration of a leadership and mentorship programme using the expertise of older diaspora members.

Maureen Duru, Food Bridge VZW, pointed up the need to implement the presence of youth in agriculture as a true catalyst to change, by supporting indigenous food systems and security: ‘it is ridiculous’ she said ‘that Africans are the only ones who do not control their own food market.’ The three main goals to be reached are qualitative education, access to land and, above all, access to finance for youth and women.

Juliette Nijimbere, Opinion Leader for the Defence of Women’s Rights in Burundi, focused on another pivotal issue, which is the one concerning the essential link between mothers and children: how can we protect children’s rights without defending the dignity of their mothers?

Simone de Beauvoir used to say that ‘one is not born, but rather becomes Woman’. Let’s give to women all over the world the possibility, the empowerment and the resources they deserve to become Women.

Contact & follow Celine via LinkedIn & Twitter

Want to know more about ACP YPN mission and goals?

Want to know more, have a question? Write to us at: acpypncomm@gmail.com

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ACP YPN at ACP Secretariat Joint workshop on women’s economic empowerment with CTA & UN Women

On the 27th of February, Celine Fabrequette, ACP YPN Programme Manager on EU Relations and SDG5 Expert, spoke on behalf of ACP YPN at the ACP Secretariat Joint Workshop on women’s economic empowerment with the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) & UN Women. She gave a brief presentation on how ACP YPN have been pushing toward more inclusion of youth and women though the various activities that it provides.  She also shared concrete solutions such as investing in diaspora and African innovation to empower youth and women through digitalization and entrepreneurship, and emphasized the need to continue the interactions between ACP Youth Diaspora and ACP Youth through various opportunities such as the joint parliamentary youth forum, the African Union intergenerational dialogue. Collaboration and exchange among ACP youth can provide great resources and valuable solutions for a sustainable development of ACP countries. Find her intervention here.

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Two sessions were organized: one on Sustainable Development Goal  and Gender Equality and women empowerment by 2030 ; and one on women’s access to land and productive resources.  Here are some of the commitments that the ACP secretariat made:

  •                                    Strengthening of the South-South Cooperation.
  •                                    Linking of access to finance with Capacity building.
  •                                    Development of specific incentives for the small                                                  sector of women’s entrepreneurship.
  •                                    Development of a monitoring instrument in an                                                   aggregate way.
  •                                    Enlarge the objectives not only to farmers and                                                    agriculture, but also to fisheries for all ACP                                                          countries to be involved.

The workshop itself lasted two days and a signed commitment for a joint action on women’s economic empowerment between the ACP secretariat and UN Women was made. The second day ended with the Celebration and Recognition of Inspiring Women who have, by their actions, worked toward reducing gender inequality and  empowering women in the economic and social sphere.

Contact & follow Celine via LinkedIn & Twitter

Want to know more about ACP YPN mission and goals?

Want to know more, have a question? Write to us at: acpypncomm@gmail.com

Keep up-to-date with ACP YPN via the Website | Facebook | Twitter | Flickr|Youtube

 

ACP YPN-CTLD joint consultation on UK-US Trade

On 26th February, the Africa Caribbean & Pacific Young Professionals Network (ACP YPN) and Caribbean Trade Law & Development (CTLD) submitted their joint written evidence to the United Kingdom (UK) House of Commons’ International Trade Committee’s on-going UK-US Trade Relations Inquiry . The inquiry  is examining the potential for a trade agreement between a post-BREXIT UK and the United States (US). Noting the importance of having a youth voice in this process, our joint submission underlined the importance of the following key points:

                   Market Access for UK and Commonwealth Young                  Professionals must be a priority;

  •                     The Youth should have a formal role in the monitoring of the                             agreement’s implementation;
  •                     Regulatory convergence should not lower UK environment,                                 health and labour standards;
  •                     A sustainable development chapter should be included in the                             trade agreement;
  •                     An investor protection court system should be considered for                             Investor-State Disputes.
The joint submission has been published on the UK House of Commons’ ITC’s website and may be viewed here.  ACP YPN and CTLD are grateful for the opportunity to share the views of EU and ACP youth on this important matter.
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