By Lillian Aber
The Commonwealth Youth Ministers and various youth leaders within the Commonwealth are expected to convene in Uganda for the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, starting on Monday, July 31, 2017 – August 4, 2017. Under the theme “Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering Young People”.
The high-level summit, held every four years, comes as the world’s youth population reaches a record 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29. Today, the youth sector stands at a crossroads, with pressure on governments to do more for their young citizens with fewer resources and growing aspirations by young people to contribute to their societies.
Uganda is predominantly a youthful country with 76% of its population being young people aged between 15 – 35 years. It is, therefore, very crucial, desirable and timely to engage and forge strong synergies for youth development within the Commonwealth. Uganda alone cannot solve its youth challenges. There is need for a joint partnership and this is what the National Youth Council is focussing on in this forthcoming commonwealth youth minister meeting.
The meeting will enable Government ministers and senior officials to share good practices, debate emerging issues, take stock of pioneering Commonwealth initiatives and forge new partnerships for resourcing youth development. Where they will engage directly with young leaders and youth sector stakeholders to ensure that multiple perspectives of youth issues are included in decision making.
This will also act as a platform for youth ministers and youth leaders to debate emerging youth development issues; take stock of current Commonwealth Secretariat and member government programmes; share good practice and identify collaborative opportunities; identify and agree pragmatic actions to strengthen youth development and agree on strategic actions to address the issues and challenges facing young people and in so doing seize the opportunities in the Commonwealth in relation to the theme.
Prior to the ministerial meeting, National Youth Council in partnership with Commonwealth Youth Council has organised a youth leaders meeting to review outcomes of the Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) held prior to the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting and propose critical areas of focus for the Commonwealth Youth Council and thematic Commonwealth Youth Networks in the lead up to the 2018 Commonwealth Youth Forum. It is the result of this meeting where the Commonwealth Secretariat will realigned its youth priorities agenda, funding and makes further commitments in supporting youth works geared towards addressing the current youth global cross-cutting challenges in partnership with its member states to ensure that every youth act as an agent of social, economic and political development of their countries.
The main objective of this year’s meeting is to advocate for an innovative approach towards financing youth works and youth development within the commonwealth members countries. The forum will provide an opportunity for youth leaders from across the 52 Commonwealth countries to convince their respective governments of the value of their young people and overcoming funding challenges and putting the appropriate processes in place to ensure a progressive youth population.
The National Youth Council of Uganda truly believes in an inclusive society where the voices of young people are treated with priority, thus the participation of young people in this forum is very instrumental considering that most of the various youth initiatives in the country have been victimised with limited funding.
Writer is the Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Uganda