Youth Engagement For Global Action


1. Ke a le dumedisa mo mosong o montle ka pula!

2. This year, 2020 marks the 21st anniversary since United Nations’ General Assembly declared 12th August a commemoration for International Youth Day (IYD). The declaration was made to recognize the role young people play as essential partners in change.

3. The annual celebrations also serve as an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth. The Assembly recommended that β€œPublic information activities be organized to support the Day as a way to promote better awareness of the World Programme of Action for Youth”.

4. Bagaetsho, the theme for IYD 2020 commemoration is β€œYouth Engagement for Global Action”. The theme seeks to highlight the ways in which the engagement of young people at the local, national and global levels is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes. Further, it provides hope as to how youth representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.

5. The theme resonates well with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) as summarized by SDG 17 which advocates for strong global partnership and cooperation. Lack of commitment by nations for inclusive partnership in the development agenda will always be a threat to youth empowerment and development at all levels.

6. The realization of the 2030 Agenda in the next decade will have to prioritize youth engagement and inclusion; especially during the pressing challenges and threats to youth development such as HIV/AIDS, conflicts and humanitarian emergencies, and currently COVID-19 pandemic. The UN predicts a sharp contraction of global economy by 3 % in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic and this will be the worst recession since the Great Depression.

7. Botswana is part of the global village in recognising and giving space to youth engagement and inclusion in decision making processes. The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development plays a key role of being the lead facilitator in generating greater awareness of the role young people play as essential partners in change.

8. It is for this reason that the Board of the Botswana National Youth Council comprises entirely of young people. As part of the larger government consultation process, my Ministry also has periodic engagements with the Youth Sector of Business Botswana. There are of course many other fora where my Ministry and other government entities engage with young people to consult with them on pertinent issues, listen to their concerns and capacitate them to effect change. However, I wish to note that this might not be enough, and therefore more should be done to leverage on the knowledge and capabilities of our young people.

9. Batswana betsho, this year’s commemoration, organized by Botswana National Youth Council (BNYC), takes place on the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. Young people in Botswana have been adversely affected by this pandemic. There are many indications that the pandemic will have long lasting negative impacts on the socio-economic, cultural, political, and other domains of our communities, including young people at local, national, regional and global levels.

10. In response and being compliant to COVID-19 restrictions, BNYC has organized virtual youth dialogues to be conducted at 10am today in Francistown. The live-streamed panel discussion can be accessed through BNYC and MYSC Facebook pages. The discussions seek to provide engagement space for young people and key stakeholders on issues affecting young people.

11. The topic of discussion is β€œYouth Engagement and Inclusion in matters affecting their lives”. Other activities for today include radio discussions on the same topic. There will be post International Youth Day activities in the form of community service projects by youth in Letlhakeng, Palapye, Tsabong, Gumare and Lobatse

12. It is my sincere appeal to encourage all, especially the youth to take advantage of these arranged activities to fully engage each other on various social platforms. Young people should be able to actively participate and engage in shaping the responses that will bring positive change to their lives.

13. In conclusion, I wish to encourage all of us in this nation to introspect as to how much space we give to our youth for their engagement and inclusion. Youth challenges require concerted global action and meaningful engagement and participation of our young people to bring sustainable and relevant solutions.

14. Ke a leboga! Pula!!!

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