2020 marks the Decade of Action call on countries including Ghana to accelerate efforts towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The achievement of the SDGs will however be meaningless without the existence of peace, as emphasized by SDG 16.
As part of activities to commemorate the 2020 International Day of Peace, under the auspices of the United Nations in Ghana, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the National Peace Council of Ghana, co-hosted the 5th e-Youth Impact Series (YIS) on the theme: Voices of the Youth for Peace-Role of the Youth in Shaping Peace in Ghana. The webinar engaged and encouraged the youth to actively participate in peace building as Ghana heads towards its general election in December 2020.
Welcoming the virtual participants to the webinar, the Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana and Chair of the UN Youth Group in Ghana, Niyi Ojuolape reminded young people of their integral role in shaping peace. The Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana, Silke Hollander also called on young people not to be weary in playing their role to help Ghana maintain and conduct peaceful elections.
Elaborating on the threats to peace and social cohesion, the Deputy Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation of the National Peace Council, Kojo Impraim, who was the Guest Speaker at the event, explained the various threats to peace. He cited bad governance, corruption, winner-takes-all, hate speech, unemployment, lack of confidence in state institutions, and mistrust in political parties among others.
In a poll conducted at the webinar, the youth scored unemployment and poverty high as one of the factors that make young people vulnerable to violence. This was followed by unfilled promises by politicians and dissatisfaction with Government; influence by peers or elderly people and alcohol and drug abuse.
To ensure the active participation of the youth in peace processes, the participants underscored the need to make deliberate efforts to include youth in decision making and development processes.
The Peace Analyst of UNDP Ghana, Melody Azinim urged young people to be vigilant in identifying signs of conflicts in their early stages and report these to the appropriate authorities to intercept the occurrences of conflict in various communities.
The youth panelists at the webinar urged their peers to actively seek information, be each other’s keeper, form or join advocacy networks and take actions to promote peace. The panelists include Dorothy Barnes, Advocate of National Network of Youth Groups Ghana; Angela Bortey, Youth Leaders Fellow of UNFPA Ghana and Ali Ibraheem, Coordinator, National Network of Youth Groups Ghana. The webinar was moderated by the Communications Analyst of UNDP Ghana, Praise Nutakor.
As Ghana goes to the polls in December, the importance of peace in the electioneering process cannot be overemphasized. Shaping the peace we want, is a shared responsibility and is important everyone plays a critical role to make the country peaceful.