United Nations Resident Coordinator's remarks at the International Youth Day celebrations in Katakwi

Aug 12, 2015

Your Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Uganda

Hon. Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development

Hon. Cabinet Ministers present

Hon. Members of Parliament present

District Leaders

Religious and Cultural Leaders

The Youth

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a great pleasure to join you today to celebrate and recognize the important contribution that youth are making in Uganda, and the rest of the world.

I am very honoured by the presence of so many young people and national leaders here today. Your presence, demonstrates very clearly, that youth matter.

This International Youth Day, like the previous ones, reminds us of the central role of young women and men as essential partners in sustainable development.

Both the global theme (on Youth Civic Engagement) and the national theme (of, We are the investment choices we make; youth matter) are two sides of the same coin - and reinforce each other.

A civically engaged youth is one who participates fully in public life, and is therefore capable of making smart investment choices.

By participating in public life, young people acquire life skills, learn responsibility and accountability, develop a greater sense of patriotism and confidence, and forge meaningful connections to other youth and adults.

For the United Nations family, 2015 is a critical year. Not only are we celebrating 70 years of UN existence, 2015 is also the 20th anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth.

This is the framework that provides practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of young people around the world.  However, much remains to be done to support youth to flourish.

Globally, over 74 million youth are unemployed, and girls and young women continue to face violence and discrimination. Given the enormity and urgency of the growing youth employment gap, it is important for stakeholders and practitioners to understand the key challenges and opportunities related to youth development.

Let us use this day today to highlight the value of engaging youth in development process and explore the spectrum of objectives that guide youth programming in an attempt to forge a sense of community among the broad range of youth practitioners.

Providing young people with employment and enterprise opportunities can contribute to human development objectives, and can reduce the likelihood that young people will engage in harmful activities.

As the UN, we believe in the value of investing in youth. We see the youth as assets and continue to engage them in development processes. When youth are viewed as assets and worthy investments, they become partners in the solutions to development, and the focus can then rightly be placed on how to create effective programmes and policies to build an inclusive enabling environment that makes it easier for young people to enter the labour market and benefit from gains of decent work.

Your Excellency,

The commitment of the Government of Uganda towards Youth is one that we applaud. We are very pleased to see that there are several government-led initiatives to increase and mobilize investment in youth, namely: the Youth Livelihood Programme, the student loan scheme, proposed Green jobs and Fair labour markets in Uganda,  and ICT incubation centres, to mention a few. These initiatives offer promising prospects for youth development, and we commend your leadership and that of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

We would like however, to see the revision of the National Youth Policy and the National Action Plan for Youth Employment expedited. We do recognize the efforts thus far, and we welcome the ongoing inter-ministerial and sectoral discussions to give the Youth Policy and Action Plan a clean bill of health.

Your Excellency Sir,

The approval of this revised National Youth Policy and the National Action Plan for Youth Employment is essential in guiding the work of the UN Country Team, which is focused on engaging and empowering youth in three key areas: (1) Policy and dialogue, (2) Capacity for delivering quality socio-economic service to youth; (3) and Knowledge management.

The Youth Policy and Action Plan will be helpful in strengthening our resolve to the youth sector, and to ensure we target the most vulnerable young women and men.

It is important that young people get quality education and training that is responsive to the needs of the job market. Over the coming months, we look forward to a deeper engagement with government in support of youth entrepreneurship and innovation, better job-matching; and vocational and skills-training for out of school youths to drive self-employment, and job creation.

In partnership with your government, we will continue to provide young people with greater access to sexual and health reproductive services, including family planning. These investments are crucial in reducing unintended pregnancies, preventing the transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and in helping adolescents lead healthy lives.

We welcome action to end early child marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual gender-based violence – all of which undermine investments in youth, and make it difficult to unlock their potential.

This coming September, world leaders, including His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, will meet at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, to adopt a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty.

Youth are important actors in driving this agenda - as leaders and decision makers; as innovators; as entrepreneurs; as volunteers; as teachers; and as community mobilisers.

As the UN Country Team, we are open to discussions on how we can work with you to domesticate these Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that Ugandan Youth do not only participate, but also drive their delivery.

Generating decent jobs for youth is one of the most pressing post-2015 development challenges. As the UN, we believe that young men and women deserve a fair chance to acquire employment security and decent remuneration, and have equal opportunity to access decent work.

Your Excellency Sir,

Youth employment should continue to be a principal goal of the Country’s macro-economic framework and a priority for fiscal policy. Our goal is to improve effectiveness of youth employment policies and programs and establish a framework for regional cooperation on youth employment and sharing knowledge to expand youth programs that work.

I would like to end by challenging the young people here today; to ask yourself what you can do to contribute to this agenda. What can you do to make a difference in your life, that of your family or your community? Or to protect your environment? Or ensure that your neighborhood is clean and safe?  

To the National Leaders and Youth Stakeholders: What investments are you going to make to ensure we leave no one behind – more especially young people?

Whatever choice you make, I hope it will be in the best interest of people, prosperity and planet.

I thank you for listening, and wish you all a happy international youth day.

For more information, please contact:

Sheila. C. Kulubya, Communications Analyst, United Nations Development Programme, and Youth Engagement and Employment (YEE) Communications Lead. Tel: +256 417 112100 Ext. 129. Email: sheila.kulubya@undp.org 

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