Launch of International Year of Youth

12 Aug 2010

The role youth can play to address global challenges, such as the ideals of peace, respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, was highlighted at the launch of the International Year of Youth (IYY) in Freetown, today.

The IYY launch is part of a programme of events the Youth Employment Secretariat, the United Nations, NGOs (Restless Development, Africare) and other partners are developing to support increased commitment and investment in youth, increased youth participation and partnership and improved intercultural understanding among youth globally.

A nationwide Youth Express Dialogue Forum on Entrepreneurship was also launched as part of the IYY activities. The Forum will take place at different centres around the country and expose youth to Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs, who will share their knowledge and experiences of ‘home grown’ successful businesses.

“I see this as particularly relevant to our local circumstances and predicated on the provisions of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP II) and the Agenda for Change,” said Dr Algashim O.Jah, Deputy Minister for Education, Youth and Sports.

“The thrust of Government is to promote business and entrepreneurship as the engine of growth and development,” he said.

“Young people, when guided, can become the educators, facilitators and policy makers of today, not tomorrow,” added Mr Nii Doodo Dodoo, Country Director of Restless Development.

Dr. Jah also called upon “youth to make good use of the opportunities as they present themselves for their own interest and for the interest of the country” at today’s launch.

A committee, comprising of various stakeholders including Government, the UN and NGOs working on youth development, has also been set up to develop IYY programmes and activities over the next 12 months.

“It is our wish to put together, programmes to reverse the circumstances of our young people by developing them as a resource for sustainable development, involving them in decision making and creating employment opportunities for them through enterprise development,” said Dr Jah.

Youth (15-24 years) represent 18% of the global population or 1.2 billion people, according to the United Nations Programme on Youth. Eighty-seven percent of youth live in developing countries facing challenges brought about by limited access to resources, healthcare, education, training, employment and economic opportunities. According to UNDP Sierra Leone, youth (15-35 years) make up 34%, or 1.7 million of the population of Sierra Leone. Of these 800,000 are actively looking for employment.

Youth often lead by example, such as by practicing green and healthy lifestyles, promoting innovative use of new technologies, including utilizing mobile devices and online social networks and by bridging gaps to foster the development of inclusive societies. Their contribution to community, national, regional and global development must be recognized and encouraged.

The One Year Our Voice committee have created an online youth debate, with over 150 participants so far, on the social network site facebook, to mark the occasion of International Youth Day in Sierra Leone (http://www.facebook.com/ouryearourvoice).

The International Year of Youth” was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (Resolution 64/134, Dec 2009) and calls for governments, civil society, individuals and communities worldwide to support activities at local and international levels. The theme of this year’s celebrations is “Dialogue and Mutual Understanding”.

For more information on IYY, visit: http://social.un.org/youthyear/

Contact Information

Abdul Karim Bah, Communications Analyst, UNDP Sierra Leone. Tel: + 232 33 167 428. Email: abdul-karim.bah@undp.org