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This readiness paper is a living document and we welcome any observations and contributions.

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Proramming the Demographic Dividend: from Theory to Experience

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The regional project for Sahel Women’s Empowerment Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) aims accelerating the demographic transition in order to create the conditions for capturing the demographic dividend and reducing gender inequalities in the Sahel region.  

To achieve these goals, one of the strategies adopted is to conceive and implement a Communication for Social and Behavioral Change (SBCC) aimed at increasing the demand for reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health services and nutrition (SRMNIN) through the transformation of norms, attitudes and social practices that impede their use.

It is within this framework that a regional and national Communication Strategy for Social and Behavioral Change has been developed to empower women and girls, in the six SWEDD countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Niger). Its development has benefited from the participation of all SWEDD stakeholders, making it a consensual document that reflects the major concerns of the six countries.

 

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Over the last ten years, it has become evident that the demographic dividend framework offers a strategic basis for focusing and prioritizing investments in people in general and youth in particular, in order to achieve sustainable development. The demographic dividend framework is in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and its’ ‘First Ten-Year Implementation Plan’ which together lay a strong foundation for the vision of African leaders in all facets of the continent’s development.

Likewise, it also underpins the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Young people comprise a significant percentage of the population. While many countries have already made progress in investing in young people, they must do much more if they want to harness the demographic dividend in this region. Young people in West and Central Africa face considerable challenges. This region has some of the world’s highest levels of child marriage, adolescent pregnancy and maternal mortality rates (especially among adolescents). Young people often do not have access or opportunities for the right education that provides them the knowledge and skills to protect their health, or to prepare them adequately for the labour market.

This position paper presents several strong arguments about why it is imperative to address child marriage and adolescent pregnancy, if we want to succeed in harnessing the demographic dividend in West and Central Africa. It also provides recommendations on the key actions different stakeholder groups can take to make this a reality. UNFPA is committed to supporting Governments and other stakeholders to harness the demographic dividend including through actions to end child marriage and reduce adolescent pregnancies in the region.

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The West and Central Africa region1 has 506.4 million people thus accounting for about 43 per cent of Africa's population. With current trends, the population is expected to increase to 756.2 million people by 2030.2 In addition, the population of West and Central Africa is predominantly young. More than 64 per cent are under the age of 24. These young people are a tremendous resource for the region but they face considerable challenges in terms of their health, education, employment and empowerment.

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As we begin 2018, we are delighted to have ended 2017 on a high note, confident that we helped make investment in young people the rallying call of the year. Our response to the call of the African Union to develop a roadmap on the demographic dividend has led to actions in the 55 member states, as well as by United Nations agencies, partners, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, and youth groups around the 2017 theme: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth.” We believe that this message is now beginning to sink in.
 
UNFPA WCARO is delighted to have championed advocacy efforts that led to African leaders making young people their top priority in all their development, peace and security initiatives. Stakeholders and partners are increasingly keen to invest in family planning, health systems, education and job creation. National leaders of our region are vocal in their commitment to ensuring that their populations can enjoy the values of a democratic society; pillars that constitute the demographic dividend agenda.
 
Key actors across the continent got involved and engaged in discussions, activities, projects and programmes around the demographic dividend agenda. This helped us to further raise awareness and explore ways of enhancing our understanding of the concept of demographic dividend and what it means in operational terms.
 
Now, at the end of the year, it is important to reflect on the progress made and the challenges ahead. We must also decide how to consolidate discussions around the demographic dividend and its operationalization, in order to continue our work in transforming the lives of young people.
Full review
As we begin 2018, we are delighted to have ended 2017 on a high note, confident that we helped make investment in young people the rallying call of the year. Our response to the call of the African Union to develop a roadmap on the demographic dividend has led to actions in the 55 member states, as well as by United Nations agencies, partners, civil society organizations, parliamentarians, and youth groups around the 2017 theme: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in Youth.” We believe that this message is now beginning to sink in.
 
UNFPA WCARO is delighted to have championed advocacy efforts that led to African leaders making young people their top priority in all their development, peace and security initiatives. Stakeholders and partners are increasingly keen to invest in family planning, health systems, education and job creation. National leaders of our region are vocal in their commitment to ensuring that their populations can enjoy the values of a democratic society; pillars that constitute the demographic dividend agenda.
 
Key actors across the continent got involved and engaged in discussions, activities, projects and programmes around the demographic dividend agenda. This helped us to further raise awareness and explore ways of enhancing our understanding of the concept of demographic dividend and what it means in operational terms.
 
Now, at the end of the year, it is important to reflect on the progress made and the challenges ahead. We must also decide how to consolidate discussions around the demographic dividend and its operationalization, in order to continue our work in transforming the lives of young people.
Full review
In 2017, UNFPA WCARO had one clear objective - to put our agenda of harnessing the demographic dividend in our region to work.
 
We teamed up with the African Union and its 55 member states as well as with other United Nations agencies, partners, civil society organizations and youth groups to ensure
that we all focussed on the year’s theme: investment in our youth.
 
Our work included advocacy from government leaders to grassroot levels, reaching out to leaders from different faiths and traditions as well as the private sector, organizing workshops and meetings across the region.
We made particular efforts to reach young people and engage them in this agenda.
 
We worked to strengthen youth organizations such as AfriYAN and promote the #PutYoungPeopleFirst campaign and we also worked on our own internal communications to ensure we reach our hardest-to-reach beneficiaries
across the region.
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