Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
ON DECEMBER 17, 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation that August 12 be declared International Youth Day (IYD). This day was first observed in 2000.
The United Nations defines youth as people between 15 and 24 years of age who make up one-sixth of the world population; sadly, most of this age group live in developing countries with numbers still expected to rise sharply.
On Saturday August 12, 18-year-old Andela Paipi took part in the IYD commemorations at the Government Complex in Lusaka. In acknowledging their huge numbers and the influence young people wield, Andela wondered if the youth were using their power to build or destroy a nation.
This year’s theme was ‘Youth build peace’, a subject in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) goal 16 which promotes peace and justice for sustainable development. The commemoration has a lot of meaning and importance of realising the significance of youths globally as champions of peace. According to Andela, young people are saying that for peace to be present, there must be participation which at the moment is lacking because there are little or no opportunities given to young people for them to participate meaningfully at all levels.
She identified the lack of participation of young people as a hindrance to peace which includes unemployment, illiteracy, corruption and unaccountability. She noted that young people do not have access to quality education, unequal distribution of development, poverty, vulnerability and the lack of policy implementation.
These challenges significantly do not only affect young people in Zambia, they affect those in the region and globally as well. As a result of vulnerability, unemployment and illiteracy, youth have been taken advantage of. In some cases they are used for wrong reasons such as tools of political violence in exchange for tokens to sustain their livelihoods.
Because of not using young people as agents of change, their confidence in the system of governance keeps deteriorating. All of these lead to the absence of peace and young people feel unfairly insignificant as considered by stakeholders.
In addressing these global challenges and building peace, she called on all governments to continue empowering young people, creating more opportunities and enhancing their participation in humanitarian and other rewarding activities.
“We wish that government could create an all-inclusive system in policy implementation thereby not leaving even the poorest people behind. We wish a conducive environment for young entrepreneurs could be prioritised to help them utilise and realise their ability to lead,” she said.
In addition, Andela implored governments to consider allocating enough money to key issues affecting young people such as quality education, unemployment and health and the need to hold them accountable when they fail to meet the desires and aspirations of young people.
She however acknowledged that young people are aware that it is not only the responsibility of government, they too need to do their part, but they cannot give the world what they do not have or are not empowered with.
“Therefore, we must take it upon ourselves to build and promote global peace and use all available platforms to including social media by building interest in issues that affect us, as well as killing ignorance and illiteracy by improving our livelihood through education and entrepreneurship activities. Young people should strongly refuse to be used as tools of violence; instead [they] should be promoters of global peace through various talent and skills like music and arts,” she said.
These commemorations are often only held in the central business districts forgetting those in rural set-ups who have more challenges than their peers in urban areas. Young people need more than just commemorations, they need to be heard; they need change, they want to be involved, they want to be participants as agents of social change in national, regional and global development.
Andela, who is a member of the Media Network on Child Rights and Development, emphasised that youth voices matter in building global peace and tranquillity in order to have a sustainably-developed world and attain the global agenda vision 2030.
Remember, children are our future, until next week, take care.
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