Youth Leaders for Health call on African leaders to invest in the youth
International Youth Day was first celebrated in the year 2000 after the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day (IYD).
IYD gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
IYD aims to promote awareness, especially among youth, of the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY) adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1995. The World Programme of Action provides a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world. The WPAY covers fifteen youth priority areas and contains proposals for action in each of these areas.
The fifteen fields of action identified by the international community are education, employment, hunger and poverty, health, environment, substance abuse, juvenile justice, leisure-time activities, girls and young women and full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making as well as globalization, information and communication technologies, HIV/AIDS, armed conflict, and intergenerational issues. It also recommends action at national, regional and global levels to implement the Programme.
Implementation of the WPAY requires the full enjoyment by young people of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, and also requires that Governments take effective action against violations of these rights and freedoms and promote non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for diversity, with full respect for various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions of their young people, equality of opportunity, solidarity, security and participation of all young women and men.
International Youth Day 2020
The theme for IYD 2020, “Youth Engagement for Global Action” seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
This year, the IYD comes at an extraordinary time when COVID-19 is ravaging populations across the world; nevertheless, it presents a great opportunity to showcase youth as effective drivers of change and to call upon African and world leaders to invest in youth and youth participation. A series of activities were organised: Social media engagement, Communique, Music, Podcast and Webinar series (on the 11th August entitled ‘The Africa we want-strengthening Youth Engagement and on ‘Youth-led advocacy towards sustainable and resilient systems for health post-COVID. Another webinar was organised on the 12th August on The Africa we want- Youth dialogue with policy makers.
An estimated 75% of the Africa’s population is below the age of 35. Yet too many youth are unable to participate fully in society. This calls for recognition and support of the youth to harness their potential. Young people, when empowered and given the right opportunities are effective drivers of change.
Our mentor, Dr. Sylvia Anie said, “With the population of the youth in Africa close to 75%, it is time to ensure our political systems embrace the voice and participation of the youth in a sustainable manner”.
Africa, the world’s youngest continent, presents an opportunity and a responsibility for us young people on the continent to lead various initiatives, to promote action in our communities, countries and on the continent.
The Youth Leaders for Health is calling the attention of leaders from local, national, regional and global levels on the following;
• Investing in youth is the surest pathway to achieving Africa’s Agenda 2063
• Achieving lasting change in health now and after COVID-19, requires that youth leaders must be at the table in global health conversations and actions.
• Providing opportunities for youth leaders to make decisions that affect their future.
These actions will provide the leaders of tomorrow who are the youth of today equal access to compete globally and confidently, build the Africa we want through honouring our leaders.
YL4H program is a one year advocacy by Results UK & its partner organizations – Hope for Future Generations – Ghana, CISMAT -Sierra Leone, HDT- Tanzania and WACI Health.
The program has trained 25 selected youth advocates advocating for policy change for strengthening of health systems in general, increasing domestic funding for Malaria control activities and halving the malaria burden in Africa.