From November 21 to November 24, 2018, Aïssatou Touré ACP YPN Public Policy Officer was invited in Marrakesh to Africities 8th edition, the biggest democratic gathering in Africa, organized by Unites Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLGA). During 4 days, this major event occurring every three years gathered more than 7000 participants including local and regional authorities, governments, civil society organizations, financial institutions and private sector.
Cités Unies France and Platforma co-organized the session “Decentralized cooperation, an effective tool for youth empowerment ” in which Aïssatou intervened as a speaker alongside Frédéric Vallier, General Secretary of Platforma ; Jean-Marie Tétart, Mayor of Houdan (France), president of Yvelines International Cooperation and Development; Patrice Ayivi, Mayor of Aného (Togo) ; Zakia Mrini, President of the Moroccan Institute of Local Development; and Roger Mahazoasy, Director of the Decentralized Cooperation of the MID (Madagascar).
With a population of over 200 million young people between the age of 15-26 years old in Africa, there is an urgent need to implement policies focusing on young people in order to benefit from the demographic dividend of this young population. In this context, three points were developed by Aïssatou on ways local authorities can improve employment and employability for young people: (1) Identify the needs of young people and adopt policies in line with those needs; (2) Partnering with different stakeholders ; and (3) Support young people’s entrepreneurship initiatives.
First, decentralized cooperation is essential in allowing local authorities to adopt consistent policies in line with the needs of the beneficiaries of their policies, in this case young people. Identifying the needs of young people is indeed the first step before adopting any policies targeting them and this can be done by creating permanent structures for young people to express themselves and help the local authorities prioritize the areas of cooperation. As an example Madagascar founded a local youth council to allow the youths to enter in dialogue with policy-makers and orientate policies. Another example is the municipality of Aného (Togo) who carried out a survey among the young people to determine the field of study that interested them if a technical school were to be created. The creation of the school was a success as it was in line with the needs of the youth.
Second, local authorities can partner and support Civil Society Organizations, private sector and develop through city-to-city cooperation programs contributing in Youth Development and Youth Leadership. This will allow young people to gain skills outside the classic school curricula and help them attain their full potential. The gained social, ethical, physical, cognitive skills can support them to define their personal and professional goals, widen their horizon but also gain self-esteem, empower themselves and others. Concretely this can be done through the development of volunteering programs, through city-to-city cooperation, but also inside the municipality to allow young people to get to know more about the work their municipality is doing and gain skills as well as experience.
Third, support youth entrepreneurship initiatives is a key step to enhance youth empowerment as it will allow them to test local innovative solutions, create jobs for themselves and others but also help them develop socially and economically their community. As an example, Les Déterminés is a youth-led company providing training and coaching for young entrepreneurs including those coming from rural and poor areas of the Paris region. The trained young entrepreneurs go back in their own communities to create jobs and improve the living conditions of the local population.
In conclusion, efficient, sustainable employment policies for young people can only be implemented if:
- Inclusive public policies identifying the needs of the beneficiaries of those policies and including the youth in this process are put in place;
- Partnerships with relevant stakeholders supporting and implementing youth development initiatives are created;
- Ownership and support is given to youth initiatives.
By ACP YPN
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Check out Platforma’s article on the session : Africitiés 2018, city-to-city cooperation to empower young people.
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