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Traditional Leaders commit to harness the demographic dividend


Press Release

Traditional Leaders commit to harness the demographic dividend

Conakry, Guinea - 10 May, 2018: The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) West and Central Africa Regional Office (WCARO) organized a conference on "Culture, Communication and Demographic Dividend" from 7 to 9 May 2018 in Conakry, Republic of Guinea. The conference brought together over a hundred traditional leaders from seven countries in the region as well as representatives of ministries of culture to discuss their contribution to harness the demographic dividend.

High-level advocacy for the demographic dividend

Under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Guinea, His Excellency Prof. Alpha Conde, the conference saw the participation of several delegations of traditional leaders from Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.

His Excellency Prof. Alpha Conde took the opportunity to call on countries of the region to pay particular attention to issues of demography, to fight against child marriage, to improve girls’ education as well as family planning.

Beyond the active engagement of traditional communicators, the Conakry meeting was an excellent opportunity to conduct advocacy on population issues. Several UNFPA representatives, including the UNFPA WCARO Regional Director, had a very fruitful exchange with the Ministerial delegations in charge of culture to enhance their engagement in development issues. The ministerial delegations committed themselves to support themes related to the demographic dividend and to support the traditional communicators of their respective countries.

Role of culture in social change

These traditional communicators shared their experience on the process of social change through fieldwork with communities in local languages. UNFPA Regional Director, Mabingue Ngom, commended their work, noting that the partnership with traditional communicators is highly strategic and makes it possible for cultural leaders to become ambassadors of social and behavior change contributing to harnessing the demographic dividend.

The Minister of Cultural Renaissance, Arts, and Social Modernization of Niger, Assoumana Malam Issa, had an interactive discussion with the traditional communicators on the theme "cultural renaissance". He highlighted the importance of cultural renaissance to Niger's development vision, stressing the key role that traditional communicators have to play in promoting that vision.

Acting to change the lives of communities

Participants from each of the seven countries represented in Conakry committed to implement the ideas shared during the meeting though an action plan for the period 2018-2020. These action plans aim at a goal of social and behavioral change to reduce maternal mortality, unmet need for family planning and gender-based violence, objectives that are fully consistent with the UNFPA's 2018-2021 Strategic Plan. The participants adopted a declaration pledging to act to harness the demographic dividend in their respective countries.

This positive momentum in Conakry will be supported by UNFPA to ensure the full engagement of traditional communicators to lay the groundwork for harnessing the demographic dividend in West and Central Africa.