By Janat B. Mukwaya
The Government of Uganda is proud to host the Ninth Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in Kampala from today July 31, to August 4, 2017. The Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meetings are convened by the Commonwealth Secretariat every after four (4) years; the last one was held in Papua New Guinea in the year 2013.
This event comes on the hills of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which Uganda hosted in the year 2007. It is therefore, a distinct honour to the Government and the people of Uganda to have yet another opportunity to host the member states. For this, we are extremely delighted and grateful to the Commonwealth fraternity.
This meeting will bring together Youth Ministers, Youth Leaders, Youth Workers and Youth Sector Stakeholders from across the Commonwealth Countries and beyond. We are happy for the tremendous response and confirmations from the member countries. We have every hope that this meeting will be very engaging and will come up with concrete resolutions that will re-focus policy and programming for youth as we seek to fulfil the Commonwealth Strategic Objectives as well as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015.
This meeting will be conducted under the Theme“Resourcing and Financing Youth Development: Empowering the Young People”. There couldn’t have been a more suitable theme than this, at this moment in time. The theme resonates well with the priorities of the Commonwealth countries that seek to create space for the youth to express themselves and contribute to the socio-economic development of their respective countries. This can best be achieved through deliberate and definite investment in addressing the cardinal challenges of access to finance, access to information and employable skills as well as sexual and reproductive health, and strengthening youth participation in the decision-making platforms. “The youth should be on the table; not on the menu”.
The challenge of unemployment and poverty among the youth is urgent and not an easy one anywhere. It is also not a new problem. Every country in one way or the other has made some remarkable strides in addressing this challenge. The question is how to make this progress faster and sustainable. This requires patience, hardwork, and commitment. We should move from thinking and preparation mode to the starting mode.
When I see youth, I see a lot of talent. The youth need to be facilitated to apply their brains and abundant energies effectively in productive ventures. The young people should define themselves and take their space. They should act responsibly and use what they have to achieve their dreams.
The Ninth Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting will provide an opportunity for the delegates to review and assess progress in national youth development; share, celebrate and adopt good practice strategies, solutions and models; and identify new priorities for action to advance youth development in the Commonwealth member states. It further provides an opportunity for the delegates to comprehend the holistic potential of their role for the broader youth sector, consider emerging youth themes, and contribute to the global youth development agenda.
Pertinent issues will be tackled during the main meeting as well as in the Side Events which include the Senior Officials Meeting, Youth Forum and the Stakeholders Meetings which have been carefully planned to engage the best brains in the public sector, international organizations and private sector to generate strategies to improve the socio-economic environment for sustainable national and regional youth development.
As the Government of Uganda, this meeting does not only offer us the opportunity to share and show-case our experience and achievements under the various interventions undertaken for the youth in the country, such as the Youth Livelihood Programme, Skilling Uganda, among others, but it also opens our minds to new learning from our sister countries and institutions.
It is also an opportunity for us to tell our story, as a country. Our foreign guests should know what good we have in this country; our endowments in terms of cultural heritage and the rich natural and socio-economic environment. We should make them feel and want more from Uganda.
Most importantly, this meeting should leave an outstanding legacy for the member states and the people of Uganda in particular. We expect the meeting to make strong commitments on the strategies of resourcing and financing youth development across the Commonwealth States. The delegates will be seeking answers to what they can do better collectively and as individual member states to leverage resources to harness the youth potential. This one week will be a very special one for the Commonwealth fraternity, and Uganda as a country.
The Ugandan youth should seize this opportunity by participating and engaging both physically and on online media throughout the action-packed week of the meeting. The youth are the face, hope and the future of this world. They should strive to maximally exploit their potential and learn not to be contented with just the bare minimum of what they are capable of being.
I wish every delegate and all Ugandans a successful Ninth Commonwealth Ministers Meeting.
Writer is the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development