On 2-4th September 2018, Fon Brunstead, ACP YPN Expert, was selected as one of 55 young African leaders amongst thousands of applicants to attend the African Union‘s (AU) Youth Exchange Ideation Dialogue Forum, an African – German (GIZ) Youth Initiative in Gaborone, Botswana. The Forum was based on a consultative and participatory framework whereby youth participants debated, reflected on solutions to build an action plan to address the challenges affecting youth exchanges and volunteerism on the African continent. The topics of the discussion panels were in line with Agenda 2063 – Africa’s strategic document for socio-economic transformation which upholds a vision for increased youth mobility, partnership and engagement. ACP-YPN activities are directly connected to these themes, thus its representation at the forum was essential.
During a stakeholder mapping activity, the role of government and the importance to increase private sector partnerships was recognised as being effective for designing sustainable exchange programs. Within this session, Fon stimulated discussions by insisting on the importance of institutions in designing inclusive policies and creating a tolerant environment to nurture the culture of civic engagement. He referenced on Article 26 of the Cotonou Agreement and Articles 10 & 11 of the African Youth Charter to commend for increased youth inclusiveness in designing cooperation agreements and national policies; a cause which is central to the ACP YPN’s objectives. Notwithstanding the role of national institutions, strong emphasis were also laid on the relevance of strengthening partnerships between youth-led organisations and the private sector (companies, small and medium enterprises, trade unions and multinationals). Six key solution areas were developed by the youth participants:
- – Building partnerships to develop exchange programs and enhance potential outreach and impact;
- Including “People Differently Abled” (PDA’s) within exchange program networks
- Providing accessibility and increasing the participation of rural youths into exchange programs;
- Maximising program impact through host organisations’ pre and post deployment support for volunteers;
- Improving host organisations’ follow-up capacity of volunteers through effective Monitoring, evaluation and feedback systems;
- Enhancing young women’s access to comprehensive healthcare services during youth exchange programs. In addition, Fon stressed on the necessity to educate more men about women’s rights and on the advantages of information technology and digitalisation in sharing opportunities and information.
In conclusion, the Forum demonstrated the importance of taking into consideration the aspirations of Africa’s youth and the collective efforts of every single stakeholder in the process of building an integrated and prosperous continent. It also marked a milestone in youth policy by putting youths at the forefront of decision making and increasing the possibilities for young people in both formal and informal sectors to have equal access to capacity building opportunities. However, the forum also revealed the need for increased partnerships and for the improvement of monitoring, evaluation and learning systems within exchange programs. In this regard, the ACP-YPN strengthens its commitment to increasing youth partnerships through the continuous fostering of youth exchanges and dialogues.
By Fon Brunstead – Get in touch with Fon on LinkedIn.
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