By Esther Nasikye
Going to Nairobi, Kenya for the African Youth Conference on the Post 2015 Development Agenda was no feat. For starters, this was no ordinary conference because as participants, in our hands we were carrying the future of 75% of Africa’s population which is the youth. Participants were representatives of regional, sub regional and national youth organizations from several African countries including Uganda, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Rwanda.
This meeting was organized by the Organization of African Youth-Kenya in partnership with UNDP, UN-Habitat, PACJA, FEMNET, VSO Jitolee and Faces of Peace Kenya. While in Nairobi from 18th – 20th December at the UN headquarters in Gigiri, the young people were mandated to define the agenda for youth post the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015. They assembled with an aim of accessing the progress made in achieving the MDGs, challenges faced and therefore come-up with concrete actions toward progress acceleration and planning for the Post-2015 Agenda. The conference was preceded by an online African Youth Survey on Post-2015 Development Agenda and social media campaign.
The Minister for Youth in Kenya opened the conference and encouraged the young people to live exemplary lives and think about the legacy they want to leave behind.
Challenges in implementing the MDGs
The young people noted that Africa was not meaningfully represented and their issues not considered when the MDGS were adopted in 2000. Tthe youth also noted that grassroot issues were not taken into consideration in the current framework which remains a major challenge. They emphasized the lack of political will from African governments, economic dependency as well as external interventions which continue to pose a challengeto the fulfillment of the MDGs and possibly the post 2015 agenda.
Among the challenges still affecting the youth today include access to health services and information especially reproductive health, unemployment, climate change, poor education standards, maternal and child mortality, gender inequality among others. As a way forward, some of the key issues to be considered post 2015 include;
- Health: Improved health service delivery and sexual reproductive health
- Youth empowerment and employment
- Equitable access to quality education and enhance appropriate technology
- Climate Change, Environmental Sustainability and Food Security
- Good Governance, Peace and Security
- (Access to) Social Justice, Protection of Minorities and Vulnerable Groups
On the last day, youth were encouraged “to deliver lest history may judge us harshly.” I think the young people did their best and committed to make a difference by changing their lives, communities and nations.
My participation was made possible through the support of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). In all the afore mentioned issues to be considered in the Post 2015 agenda, gender equity and equality should be paramount in all.
The main outcome of the meeting was the release of the African Youth Declaration on Post-2015 Agenda detailing the aspirations and values of African youth. Youth can also download it here