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African youths at core to identify population, development priorities

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Over 150 African youth representatives, who gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 24th to 25th September 2013, identified their priorities for population and development beyond 2014, to be presented as a set of recommendations at the African Regional Conference on Population & Development on 30th September -4th October 2013.

The recommendations will feed into the African regional intergovernmental conference on ICPD, for the next twenty years. The themes discussed included sexual and reproductive health and rights, education, youth employment, family planning and maternal mortality and participation, governance and security.

In Africa, the youngest continent,  where youth under the age of 25 years account for up to 70 per cent of the population, these recommendations are intended to identify specific interventions that would increase and accelerate progress on critical issues for youth in the region.

They are meant to enable governments to unleash and harness youths’ potential to drive a continental economic and social renaissance.  

The youths appealed for more resources to be invested in them as well as uphold their human rights for the promotion of socio-economic development and growth on the continent.

They also highlighted the need for an Integrating Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in school curricular that involves skills, knowledge, attitudes and a gender-analytical approach.

In their 14-point recommendations on Health, African youths want governments to renew their commitment and accelerate implementation of the 2001 Abuja Declaration on allocating 15 percent of national budgets to health, with specific allocation towards sexual and reproductive health programming for all young people.

Taking their responsibilities, youths also want governments and their development partners to strengthen youth engagement and participation in national health budget planning, implementation, budget-tracking and performance evaluation.

On Education, they listed 10 points including governments increasing national budgetary allocation on education at all levels.

Regarding employment, governments are urged to create an enabling environment for young people to participate in the development, implementation and review of laws and policies related to youth employment. They should also increase access to financial, technical and other resources for young people to provide decent and sustainable employment.

As for inclusive participation, security and governance, the youths recommended that governments empower young people to meaningfully participate and engage in all stages of decision making, development planning and implementation of all programmes and policies; and establish mechanisms and systems for the prevention of and responses to gender based violence in conflict and post conflict settings.

At the opening ceremony in Addis Ababa, the African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Martial De Paul Ikounga, noted that it is time to promote more investment that will benefit African youths, who are full of initiatives and represent over 37% of the continent’s work force.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Representative to Ethiopia, Faustin Yao, said the the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 resolved to give attention to the needs and potentials young people, especially girls before 2014. But many of the promises to young people remain unfulfilled, Mr. Yao observed.

Speaking on behalf UNECA, Mr. Assane Diop, call on the youth to prepare the ground for Africa 2063 as the world new pole envisioned by the African Union Commission.

From 30th September to 4th October Representatives of African governments, civil society and youth networks gather to review progress towards the goals of the ICPD Programme of Action.   The theme of the conference is “Harnessing the demographic dividend: The future we want”.

The pre-events are aimed at validating an African Common Position to be included in the ICPD Beyond 2014 Global Report. The youth forum precedes a meeting of experts taking place from September 30 to October 2 also in Addis Ababa.