‘Your attitudes and leadership consistency will be pivotal’ — Deputy Secretary-General
It was a day for ceremony and celebration in Chandigarh yesterday (weds) as the Commonwealth’s newly-elected youth leadership took their oaths in an hour-long Installation Ceremony Presided over by the Deputy Secretary-General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.
On Tuesday, at a special Youth Leaders’ Conference in the north Indian city, delegates from 38 Commonwealth countries selected Noelyn Wagapu from the Solomon Islands and Rebecca Solomon, from Vanuatu as their new Chair and Vice Chair respectively
Africa, Asia, Caribbean and the Pacific also held regional leadership elections.
The eight new youth representatives read their code of conduct in the presence of their peers, Commonwealth Youth Programme Staff and the media.
Together they pledged to work according to the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, leadership, professionalism and political neutrality. “We shall extend adequate service to the youth of the Commonwealth and seek to strengthen youth development in the Commonwealth, and by extension, the world,” they said.
The Deputy Secretary-General told them: “We hope you will make a critical difference in youth leadership and advocacy in the Commonwealth.”
I will tell you the truth no one says about leadership, she said.
“You will be called on to make sacrifices of your time, creative energy, resources and money. The requirements for serving this youth will come at inconvenient times and your commitment will require more than you presently imagine it will.
“You will be called upon to stretch all of your present problem solving and conflict resolution skills. Do not assume your present commitment lightly. If you find yourself giving less than your best – you are probably not doing a good job.
“Your attitudes and leadership consistency will be pivotal.”
Mrs Masire-Mwamba, who oversees youth affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat, advised the rest of the Youth Caucus to stand united and support the decisions of their new leaders, even if they do not agree on every issue.
“You have given them an impossible job – impossible that is, without your help and support,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary-General then initiated the traditional candle lighting ceremony, signifying hope. Mr Raj Mishra, Regional Director of the Commonwealth Youth Programme Asia Centre invited the new caucus leaders to light a candle.
Rebecca Solomon addressed her peers for the first time as Vice-Chair of the Pan-Commonwealth Youth Caucus. In a poignant speech, she spoke for herself and the Chair, who was unable to be at the ceremony. “I want you to know that we cannot do this alone; we will need your commitment, your support, your ideas and your energy. We believe great things can happen in the Commonwealth for youth and we believe we have been called to help make it a reality.
“But we are not the only leaders in this room; we believe each of us has been called too — called to work for the good in society.” Asking delegates to stand in support, she told them: “I am not standing here alone.”
The Commonwealth’s Youth Caucus seeks to promote meaningful engagement of young people in the planning and decision-making process of the Commonwealth Youth Programme (CYP).
The five-day conference is being hosted by the CYP Asia Office based in Chandigarh. The theme for the meeting is: ‘Our Year, Our Voice’
The new Commonwealth Youth Caucus Leadership is as follows:
Pan-Comonwealth Chair: Noelyn Wagapu, Solomon Islands
Pan-Commonwealth Vice Chair: Rebecca Solomon, Vanuatu
Regional Chair (Africa): Samuel Kavuma, Uganda
Regional Vice Chair (Africa): Asala Ewajesu Etoolorunpe, Nigeria
Regional Chair (Asia): Dalbir Singh, Malaysia
Regional Vice Chair (Asia): Cindy Ching (Singapore)
Regional Chair (Caribbean) Shireene McMillan, Grenada
Regional Vice Chair (Caribbean) Edwin Ato Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago
Regional Chair (Pacific) Tamara File, Cook Islands
Regional Vice Chair (Pacific) Tom Junior Misikea, Niue
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