“It is not just a union of organisations but a union of African youth,” is how Mr Ronald Osumba, Chairman of the National Youth Advisory Board of Kenya, described the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) and the Pan-African Youth Union (PYU) on the sidelines of the 10 Year anniversary of the African Youth Charter celebrations in Banjul, The Gambia.
As we take stock of whether the Charter has yielded fruit, it is hard not to notice that two strong African women, Ms Faith Manthi, the Vice-Chairperson for partnership and resources of the CYC and Ms Francine Muyumba, President of the PYU, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organisations.
Africa is the most youthful continent in the world, with 65% of the population below the age of 35. In 2020 it is expected that 3 out of 4 will be of an average age of 20. The statistics speaks for themselves but also underscores the need for innovative solutions and partnerships to harness this demographic dividend to drive sustainable development.
The Commonwealth Youth Council has prioritised partnerships with regional youth bodies to enhance youth empowerment and development. Ms Manthi emphasised that this is aimed at developing synergised priorities on youth development across Commonwealth member states.
Ahead of the signing, Dr Mahama Oudrego, director of HRST department at the African Union Commission, and Ms Lesenyeho, the Director at the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation of Lesotho, addressed those gathered. Dr Oudrego reminded that the young people in the room are the lucky ones and that we should not forget other young people who are left on the margins of such discussions. Ms Lesenyeho shared the success stories of Lesotho, which has established a National Youth Council, introduced a National Volunteer Corps and emphasised the development of vocational skills in young people.
After the signing, Mrs Agnes Tjoirgarero, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Sports, Youth and National Service of Namibia, reminded the young people, “It is time you recognise the challenges facing African youth but unite and partner to address them, this partnership should not lose sight of that responsibility.” The signing was also followed by a soft launch of the Commonwealth & Restless Development report, “Youth Led Accountability Mechanisms for the SDGs“, which aims to enhance youth participation in the review and implementation of the SDGs.
The objectives of the collaboration include:
• Advocacy for the recognition of young people’s unique needs and capabilities in the implementation of the SDGs, and the development of youth-specific measurement and accountability mechanisms, in particular the Youth Development Index and the implementation of legal frameworks like the African Youth Charter.
• Mobilisation of resources from African Union and Commonwealth member states to fund joint programmes and activities that advance youth citizenship and the meaningful participation of young people in national, regional and global democracy and development processes in Africa and across the Commonwealth, in order to realise their full contribution to nation building.
• Enhancement of partnerships on programmes and projects on key areas of mutual concern including Human Rights and Democracy, Climate Change, Youth Entrepreneurship, Sport for Development and Peace, and other emerging issues affecting young people, including approaches on how to counter violent extremism and promote peaceful societies.
• Strengthening the capacity of national youth frameworks such as National Youth Councils to advance the youth agenda including holding governments accountable, as well as to advocate for implementation of policies and mechanisms geared towards empowerment of young people, particularly by accelerating implementation of the AU Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009–2018).
• Sharing of knowledge, ideas and good practices of youth empowerment including partnerships with the Commission and the Commonwealth in promoting and implementing policy frameworks mutually beneficial to young people in Africa and the Commonwealth such as the African Youth Charter, the Commonwealth Youth Development Index; the CYC Strategic Plan (2015-2017); etc.
• Enhancement of cooperation and capacity building between the CYC and PYU Executive Leadership teams; and the linkage of youth-led networks in Africa and the Commonwealth to facilitate further thematic collaborations.
To contact the Commonwealth Youth Council email [email protected].
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