“In this new era, the best investment is investment in youths” – Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, Minister of Youth of the Republic of Rwanda.
On November 3-6, 2018, Fon Brunstead – ACP YPN’s Policy Expert, attended the World Youth Forum in Sharm El Sheikh – Egypt, one of the world’s greatest youth events uniting 5000 young leaders across the world.
The World Youth Forum provided an opportunity to further the discourse on youth inclusiveness in contributing to world peace and prosperity; a subject matter which is pertinent to the objectives of the ACP-YPN. The underlying element of the event pertained to the idea that if inclusive policies are in place, the capacity of young people will be enhanced, leading to an acceleration in development. Panels and discussions were thus essentially centered on strategies for harnessing youth power in spurring economic development and fostering peaceful and tolerant societies.
On the peace agenda, the importance of a comprehensive and sectorial approach was recognized. While the comprehensive approach highlighted the need for a multiple stakeholders’ engagement (government, civil society and media), the sectorial approach sustains the idea that peace needs to be addressed with consideration to specific continental, regional, national and local dynamics. It was agreed that dialogue, participation and empathy remain very important variables in the fight against discrimination and violent extremism; however, they need to be deliberately formulated and integrated into policy frameworks. In this regard, national governments were encouraged to sustain peace building efforts through policies that enable political participation and promote parleys with reference to the Rwandan example of a successful post-genocide reconstruction. The role of women and youths was particularly considered; stressing the importance for them to feel a sense of belonging in peace processes and to participate in peace education and inclusive activities such as sports. In the words of Mrs. Rosemary Mbazizi, “there can be no peace in the world without the inclusive participation of the world”
Inequality regarding gender and opportunities was considered as a major challenge in addressing the poverty conundrum. The need to narrow the gender gap in the labor market was raised. It was argued that entrepreneurship and technology offer a leeway for women’s empowerment because it enables them set their own pace and time. Notwithstanding, the main obstacle for women remains the lack of a financial ecosystem with a mechanism for monitoring micro-finance interventions and accompanying women in investments. A “woman to self” gender gap in technology was also identified. Evidence suggested that most women, especially in rural settings, think technology is difficult and considered it as a “boy toy” or a ‘thing’ for men, thus limiting the innovative and market capacities of their businesses. Recommendations addressed the need for women to tap into their inner abilities and bolster their self-esteem, while training programs should tally with women’s needs.
A particularly interesting session was titled: “Agenda 2063: the Africa we want”. During this session, importance was placed on the role of youths and women in the accomplishment of Agenda 2063 – Africa’s strategic framework for socio-economic development. Volunteerism and networking among young people were highlighted as important channels for stimulating exchanges and building capacities, to emphasize on what was discussed during the AU – GIZ Consultative Youth Ideation Meeting held in Gaborone-Botswana in September 2018. In the domain of economic growth, evidence revealed that Africa lacked sufficient investment groups and platforms for crowdfunding. Relevance was also attributed to migrant remittances going to Africa and to the need to create systemic mechanisms in managing and coordinating these revenues. It was assessed that significant successes had been recorded towards achieving African integration. Yet, prospects for an African free trade area remain challenged.
In summary, the World Youth Forum 18’ marks evidence to the fact that addressing the world’s urgent challenges is ultimately dependent on collective action. The forum revealed the power, potentials and responsibilities bestowed on young people to think, act, and lead. It falls in line with the role of the ACP YPN in stimulating discussions and exchanges among young professionals and in advocating for inclusive decision-making. Indeed, in this new era, the best investment is investment in youths.
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