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.

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