Sunday, 12 August 2012



                               Building a Better World: Partnering with Youth


“…A society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death”
Kofi Annan, Former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), 1998.

In an effort to ensure that youths across the globe are promoted, the UN through it General Assembly in 1995 adopted the World Programme of Action for Youth (WPAY). The WPAY provides international policy framework and guideline on how the situation of the youth can be bettered in all countries. Specifically, the WPAY isolates fifteen key issues affecting youths, which governments have to pay particular attention to. These include: Education, Employment, Hunger and poverty, Health, Environment, Drug abuse, Juvenile delinquency, Leisure-time activities, Girls and young women, Full and effective participation of youth in the life of society and in decision-making, Globalization, Information and communications, technology, HIV/AIDS, Armed conflict, and Intergenerational issues.  Meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in 1998 during a World Conference of Ministers responsible for youth, delegates recommended to the UN to set aside 12th August as an International Youth Day to create a forum for furthering the youth agenda.  It was at this conference that the then UN General Secretary made the above statement, which we, at YAACC and youths in general, fully subscribe to. In 1999, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution 54/120 designating 12th August an IYD. The day plays a vital role as it provides an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues. It remains a sharp tool used to create, across the globe, conditions that encourage youths’ imagination, ideals, energy and vision to flourish to the benefit of societies.  As we celebrate the day this year, let us not just take it as a fulfillment of a tradition, but we have to critically and purposely reflect on the theme, which is “Building a Better World: Partnering the Youth.”

We, at YAACC, fully acknowledge the commitment shown by the government of Malawi to promote youths. This is clearly reflected in the adoption of the National Youth Policy (NYP) as required by the WPAY and the African Youth Decade 2009-2018 Plan of Action. The Policy paved way for the establishment of the National Youth Council. Most recently, we have seen the launch of a Youth Parliament. We also acknowledge the complementary role being played by non-state actors in promoting youths. A lot of organizations are paying fees for thousands of orphaned and disadvantaged youths, offering them vocational training and many other opportunities. This gives al lot of hope to the youths out there. It is commendable and ought to be sustained. 

However, we cannot proudly say that we have hit the mark of absolute achievement in terms of promoting the youth; there remains a lot be done to fully realize the dream spelt out in WPAY and the NYP. There remain some gaps in need of prompt filling.  We are all aware that Africa is the most youthful continent with about 65% of the population below 35 years of age[1]. This ought to be understood as a demographic advantage full of potential to turn Africa’s fortunes around. What is simply needed is to step up deliberate efforts to mobilize and equip these youths with abilities. Youths are blessed with resourcefulness; creativity; adaptability; quick-learning; activity and many other enviable attributes which need to be utilized towards global development goals.  

In Malawi, the problems youth continue to face as comprehensively highlighted in the Youth Concerns Collection Report (2008)[2] in the areas of education, employment, drug and alcohol abuse, infrastructure, health/Aids, crime, social security, and more importantly environment need full collaboration of youth to deal with. Just like YAACC, there exist a number of youth-run initiatives bent on improving the welfare of youths. Rendering support to such initiatives could be one of the greatest investments towards youth empowerment.  

Our plea to government and other stakeholders is that this year’s theme should be meditated and acted upon. We would like to see this year’s IYD make a difference and not just pass traditionally. The challenges facing the youth and the whole world today, including, climate change, are hard to deal with if the youths’ continuously live in exclusion. Our hope, once again, is that the celebration of this year’s IYD will help augment youth inclusion and empowerment efforts. Otherwise, as Kofi Annan put it, “…a society that cuts itself off from its youth severs its lifeline; it is condemned to bleed to death.” Malawi, Mzimba or Rumphi should not be such an unfortunate society, more especially after this year’s IYD. This is our prayer.

 Evans Lwara

[2] Network for Youth Development (NfYD), Blantyre.

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