HARARE: Today the 1st of November 2017, Zimbabwean youth will join the rest of the African Community in commemorating Africa Youth Day in Harare.
This year’s commemorations will run under the theme ““Africa’s Youth for the Demographic Dividend: #BeTheFutureToday”
Africa Youth Day (AYD) is a set aside annually by the African Union to recognise youth as key agents for social change, economic growth and sustainable development in all facets of African Society. It is an occasion to celebrate the youth on the continent, and an opportunity to channel youth energy, participation and creativity towards the achievement of Youth African Agenda.
According to the African Union, about 65% of the total population of Africa are below the age of 35 years and over 35% are between the ages of 15-35 years- making Africa the most youthful continent. By 2020 it is projected that out of 4 people, 3 will be on average of 20 years old. Zimbabwe recognises this youth bulge and a great potential for growth that it represents given the right investments in young people are made. The African Youth Decade Plan of Action (2009-2018) provides the right framework for multi-sectoral and multi-dimensional engagement of all stakeholders towards the achievement of the goals and objectives of the African Youth Charter. The plan is a template that assures more coordinated and concerted efforts towards investment in youth and ultimately accelerating youth empowerment and development.
In July 2006, African Union Head of States and Governments endorsed the African Youth Charter (AYC) in Banjul, Gambia. The Charter is a legal document which serves as the strategic framework that gives direction for youth empowerment and development at continental, regional and national levels. The AYC aims to strengthen, reinforce and consolidate efforts to empower young people through meaningful youth participation and equal partnership in driving Africa’s development agenda. Overall:
- The Youth Charter is a legal document to support policies, programmes and actions for youth development in Africa
- The Charter refers to the rights, freedoms and duties of Young people in Africa
- The Youth Decade Plan of Action 2009-2018 is a roadmap for the effective popularizing, ratifying and implementing the AYC
As of April 28, 2014
- 36 Member States had Ratified the Charter
- 42 Member States had Signed the Charter
- This leaves Only 3 Member States which are yet to sign and ratify.
Significance of Africa Youth Day
The commemoration has the following significance:
- It a unique opportunity to showcase the potentials of the African youth, celebrate their contributions to development arena as well as design strategies for the way forward.
- It further provides the opportunity to promote the visibility for the youth and their actions at national level thereby encouraging increased investment in youth development at local, regional and international levels
- The African Youth Day is a means to encourage innovation and creativity among young people and to strengthen youth participation in various aspects of the economic, social and political development of their countries
- It is also a means to strengthen the solidarity and involvement of young people in actions promoting stability, peace and sustainable economic development
This year’s commemoration comes at a time when there have been some positive developments in youth programming on the African continent and Zimbabwe in particular. Zimbabwean youth have got a big role to play in the development of the country and the continent at large. Let all stakeholder efforts be harmonized and concerted to assure that young people have a voice to echo in matters that are pertinent to them. Let youth be given a chance to meaningfully contribute and participate in safeguarding the sovereignty of this great continent.