Ms. Rosa Malango: Remarks at International Youth Day Celebrations

Aug 14, 2017

Your Excellency, President of the Republic of Uganda

Honorable Ministers,

Permanent Secretaries,

Distinguished Guests,

Representative of Private Sector,

Representatives of Civil Society Organizations,

Representative of Youth led organizations,

Youth present here,

Colleagues from the UN,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It’s a great honour to join you today in the beautiful mountainside of Bundibugyo to celebrate International Youth Day.

As you all know, the current generation of youth is the largest globally. In Africa, 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, making it the continent with the youngest population in the world today. The current trend indicates that this figure will double by 2045. In Uganda, about 78% of the population is below 30 years of age.

The ideas, inspirations, aspirations, considerable energy and vision of the youth are essential for the continuing development of society. We cannot achieve sustainable development without the active participation of the youth.

It is for this reason that the UN General Assembly in 1999, designated 12 August every year to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. This year, celebrations to mark the day will focus on the theme; “Youth Building Peace.

Youth play a critical role in ensuring a peaceful society and their role in peacebuilding cannot be undermined. This theme is therefore intended to celebrate their contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the second year since world leaders signed off the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which resulted from an inclusive and people-centred process that involved; Governments, Parliaments, business owners, civil society, citizens and the youth.

SDG 16 specifically commits Member States to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels”. The role of youth in ensuring the successful achievement of this commitment is critical.

Uganda is a perfect example of how peace has led to development by communities and government working together within the country and beyond her borders. After two decades of insurgency in Northern Uganda, 1.8 million internally displaced people, many of whom were youth, returned home and are now involved in the development of the region.

In 2016, through the UN Electoral support, civil society actors including The Elders Forum Uganda (TEFU) and the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), contributed to quickly addressing post-election violence in the Rwenzori sub-region. This process engaged youth as actors in peace building of the region which is now enjoying relative peace. I congratulate the youth for their contribution towards sustaining peace in Rwenzori region and the country at large.

Uganda is a haven of peace, not only for Ugandans but for our neighbours whose countries are going through challenging times. Currently, the country is home to over one million refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in Africa.

Its progressive refugee model has been heralded globally, giving refugees relative freedom, equal access to social work, a right to work and enabling them to contribute to the country’s economy.

Many of the beneficiaries of this generous process are youth from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi among others. Supporting these young people at the most vulnerable point in their lives promotes peacebuilding enabling them in turn to become peace ambassadors for Uganda and their home countries. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN System in Uganda developed the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2016-2020 which is in line with both the second National Development Plan (NDP II) and the SDGs. Within this framework, the UN in Uganda continues to work with the Government, civil society organisations, women’s groups, development partners and the youth to promote development and peace building.

It’s my great pleasure to inform you that early this year, UN in Uganda developed the; Adolescents and Youth Strategy (2017-2020). The strategy guides the UN’s engagement and support to youth and adolescent matters. It also harmonizes our support with Government efforts in the same area.

This strategy builds on the specific mandates, expertise and capacities of individual UN entities, pooling the strengths of the whole UN system and promoting joint programmatic work. It also recognizes the role of adolescents and youth to drive the envisaged growth and transformation of Uganda. Under the strategy, we have put in place various programmes and projects that support youth initiatives. Some of these include;

  • YouthConnekt, a platform that  was initiated in 2012 in Rwanda and has yielded enormous successes for the young people by connecting them to the public, private sector and the civil society for economic opportunities. In Uganda, the initiative was launched in June this year and will act as a platform to connect youth to their role models, peers, resources, skills, economic opportunities.
  • Youth to Youth fund model which allows youth in Uganda to come up innovative ideas which ILO funds to upscale for example the production re-usable sanitary pads in Oyam, Mukono, Mpigi, and Lira districts. This has helped girls in school to maintain classroom attendance and participation. This has now been scaled up nationwide by UNICEF.
  • The UpAccelerate , a UNFPA supported programme sources innovative solutions to population and socio-economic challenges by tapping into networks of young entrepreneurs providing them with seed funding, mentorship and technical support to develop scalable and sustainable solutions. The UNFPA Youth Enterprise Model targets young people in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Vocational Training Institutions (VTIs) with Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services. The Better Life for Girls’ programme focuses at improving education and socio-economic opportunities for young girls.
  • The Adjumani design challenge in which UNDP engaged youth from both refugee and host communities in Adjumani district to turn their challenges into opportunities using human centred design. The innovative approach enabled the young people to identify their main challenges and work together to identify pragmatic solutions for them. This is part of the UN ReHOPE initiative which aims to empower refugee and host communities in Uganda.
  • UNDP has also partnered with Outbox, a youth innovation hub to develop an online youth innovators platform that will allow youth to share their innovative ideas as well as link them to role models and funding institutions which can help them develop their ideas further.

Our hope is that these initiatives will give youth space to create novel innovations that will enable them to contribute to reducing the youth unemployment challenge in the country today which usually affect efforts towards peace building.

As I conclude, I would like to reiterate the importance of young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda. We believe that including the youth in decision-making as well as giving them access to quality education, health care and basic services promotes peace and encourages them to be active contributors to society.

The UN family remains committed to partnering with government, development, religious and civil society organisations to advance the empowerment of youth in this country.  I call upon the youth gathered here today to remember that you are the champions of Uganda’s peace, prosperity and ultimately its development. Use your knowledge, skills and talents so that together we can enable Uganda reach middle income status and beyond.

I thank you for listening, and wish all you all a wonderful day of celebration.

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