Paradigm Initiative (PIN) joins the world in commemorating International Youth Day under the theme – Youth Engagement for Global Action. The day was endorsed in 1999 by the General Assembly after a recommendation by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth. The commemoration for 2020 comes at a time when the world is battling against the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects are adverse on vulnerable youth such as refugees, those in rural areas, migrants and more so, youth in the informal sector who live from hand to mouth due to high levels of unemployment in many African countries.
According to the UN/DESA Policy Brief #67: Protecting and mobilizing youth in COVID-19 responses, young people are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions caused by the pandemic. With many African countries on lockdown guidelines in response to the pandemic, PIN calls for policies that ensure that social safety nets are afforded to youths to ensure they are able to get access to improved livelihoods and to be able to actively engage in any global action.
As we reflect on the reality that globally in 2020, more than one in five (22.4 per cent) young people aged 15–24 are neither in employment, education or training (NEET), PIN calls for African States to provide youths with equal opportunities for education and employment. We stand committed to empowering young people with skills that capacitate them to serve their communities and to improve their livelihoods.
Through the PIN Life Skills, ICTs, Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship (LIFE) training program, many youths are being empowered to access digital platforms that enhance their prospects of employment and starting businesses. This empowerment equally capacitates them to receive information and to be able to participate in national processes and beyond.
As we pay tribute to the youths in our communities, we urge African States to continue to take strides to ensure the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 which urges States in part 4 to increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship in ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all .
We encourage States to ensure that youth have access to the internet in keeping with Principle 37(2) of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights’ Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa which provides that States shall recognise that universal, equitable, affordable and meaningful access to the internet is necessary for the realisation of freedom of expression, access to information and the exercise of other human rights. Internet access provides a platform for the enjoyment of human rights. Providing youths with internet access is critical more so now during the pandemic.
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