Zambia@60: Driving Youth Empowerment Through Policy Engagement

March 26, 2024
Image of a boy and a girl holding the 2024 National Youth Policy

Youths at the launch of the National Youth Policy

Image captured by: Cecilia Mubambe/UNDP Zambia

The 2024 National Youth Week was once again held in March to celebrate the young people of Zambia in recognitions of their role in national liberation and development. Under the theme Zambia@60: Be the Change, the week offered a range of activities that saw the active participation of youth in community service, a career’s fair health and recreation and closed over with over 3000 young women and men from across the country gathered at the Mulungushi International Conference Center to interact with His Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema and cabinet ministers during this year’s National Youth Indaba. The indaba provided an opportunity for real time engagement and dialogue between government leaders and some captains of industry with youths who expressed themselves freely and confidently through a questions and answer session with the president on a variety of issues affecting young people in Zambia.  

The launch of the much-anticipated National Youth Policy was celebrated under the theme Zambia@60: Be the Change. The launch served as a stage for positive dialogue, empowering the youth community to actively participate in determining their future. The convening proved to be a viable platform for positive discourse, thereby empowering the dynamic youth demographic in Zambia to actively participate in social economic and political transformation

At the indaba, President Hakainde Hichilema unveiled the 2024 National Youth Policy and recognized the substantial role of young people in national progress and emphasized government's dedication to addressing various youth-related issues such as entrepreneurship, employment, education, health, and mindset transformation.

One of the attendees Ruth Ngoma, known as the entrepreneurial scientist, highlighted the significance of the indaba as a valuable space for youth participation and emphasized the importance of youth involvement in creating change and holding both youth and government leaders accountable. 

Ms Ngoma emphasized the need for permanent solutions rather than temporary ones and encourages active participation of youths in events like this, indicating a positive direction for youth policy implementation.

 “The launch of the youth policy is an excellent opportunity for young people to be featured and feel involved”

Another attendee Ken Kaluba from Kapiri Mposhi said, “Reflecting on this year’s theme, being the change starts with me, I acknowledge the power of youth in recognizing the individual potential within each of us,” he said. 

Ken expressed his high expectations upon attending the event, particularly focusing on the theme "Be the Change” and emphasized the importance of realizing one's identity and potential as a youth, highlighting personal responsibility and the impact of today's actions on tomorrow's outcomes.

“I intend to share my insights with fellow youths in Central Province, particularly emphasizing the significance of self-realization, responsibility, and the influence of present actions on future prospects”
— Ken Kaluba, event attendee.
An image of President Hakainde Hichilema, Minister of Youth Sport and Arts Elvis Nkandu and United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali holding a basket with the 2024 National Youth Policy

From left to right; President Hakainde Hichilema, Minister of Youth Sport and Arts Elvis Nkandu and United Nations Zambia Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali

Image captured by: Cecilia Mubambe/UNDP Zambia

Also speaking at the launch United Nations Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali said, “We note strides by your Government on the national economic transformation agenda. We also note efforts towards youth empowerment. The launch of the updated National Youth Policy, as well as the launch of the National Arts Policy, are indeed critical steps undertaken by the Government to ensure that young people in Zambia have every opportunity in an enabling environment to pursue their dreams and aspirations” 

Ms. Mutali noted that this year’s theme highlighted the collective individual responsibility in shaping the nation's future. From effectively addressing the escalating impacts of climate change to taking ownership of Zambia’s 8th National Development Plan, which embodies the nation's aspiration to attain middle-income status by 2030, the theme urged everyone to take action at all levels to drive the desired change.

Before the launch of the National Youth policy financial and technical support were extended to organize provincial consultations with youth in all 10 provinces before the initiation of the policy development process. Additionally, technical assistance was rendered to the lead consultant in crafting the initial draft of the policy document. UNDP actively participated in the technical committee at the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Arts, which was tasked with reviewing and refining the draft policy document and its implementation plan. This involvement encompassed coordinating inputs from UN technical experts at both national and regional levels.

Furthermore, technical and financial assistance was provided for the validation of the policy document with youth representatives across all 10 provinces. Additionally, technical support was instrumental in the design and launch of the Policy at the National Youth Indaba, ensuring a comprehensive approach to its implementation and dissemination.