Reflections On Africa: Youths Also Have Something To Offer
Being a member of the African Youth Task Force, I had a chance to engage African permanent Missions to the UN in a recent trip to New York. The engagement was on the post 2015 development agenda and how Africa can be the voice of young people being the most youthful continent. Below are my reflections:
It is easy to complain about the disconnect, which has for a long time existed between the young people, the government and development agencies. The African youth Task force provide a platform and an opportunity for its members-12 dynamic young people- to engage African permanent representatives to the United Nations and start a journey towards bridging the gap, establishing a long lasting relationship and setting a trend that should be emulated by future development initiative to be established in Africa.
Meeting the ambassadors, it was evident that both sides of the presumed divide have never been provided with an ample safe space where they can trust each other enough to engage, share their different experiences, perspectives and reach out to ensure that Africa puts all its resources behind global processes. I was amazed to meet ambassadors who were keen to learn how members of the task force were engaging with development initiatives at the country, regional and global level. Despite the task force setting out to engage the representatives on the post 2015 development agenda, they were also keen to learn of other processes we had engaged in such as the ICPD Beyond 2014 review.
The singling out of overarching issues such as the much spoken about demographic dividend and setting time to understand how we as young people think of the current discussions and what is lacking and can be featured in discussions on the topic going forward was iconic. The technical expertise shared by the experts from the missions was also invaluable especially given that they had engaged with the technical case building of the post 2015 development agenda. I felt that the long journey to bridge the gap between discussions in New York and actual implementations of laws and policies for the betterment of lives in Africa was in the right hands with the African Youth Task Force.
I was able to understand how decisions are made at the global level, the procedures and bureaucracies involved and the role Africa has been playing. This insight was invaluable given that we have a long time to engage in these spaces and the information can only help to improve our strategy, effectiveness in terms of mobilizing and having strategic alliances and overall success.
My experience in New York for the one week was one of inspiration, mentorship and building relationships in a learning environment that facilitated mutual exchange. I realized that young people should not trivialize their own experiences and work. as legitimate knowledge and experience to ensure discussions on issues affecting young people are backed up with personal stories and that the much needed evidence base is adequately created. The team that had members with unique experiences and expertise contributed to the success of the meeting.
To summarize it all, my experience was eye opening, mind boggling and enriching with knowledge.