UN stresses crucial role of youth in development
Maputo, 17 May 2005 – The UN in Mozambique considers the young generation as crucial for the development of the country. At the third General Assembly of the National Youth Council in Manhiça, UNICEF Representative Leila Pakkala stressed that young people already have many opportunities to participate in that process. “But a lot needs to be done still, especially with regards to girls’ empowerment,” she said speaking on behalf of the United Nations agencies in Mozambique.
“Young people’s participation is vital for changing the course of the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” she said. In the fight against HIV/AIDS, UNICEF, UNESCO and UNFPA are supporting various programmes on HIV/AIDS prevention involving young people as peer educators.
This includes youth friendly health services, where young people can get accurate information on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases and different life skills programmes such as Geração Biz supported by UNFPA.
In addition, UNICEF is supporting the child to child radio programme broadcast by Radio Moçambique. HIV/AIDS prevention is one of the major topics discussed during these programmes, which are entirely conceived and presented by young people. Another example is the life skills programme “My future is my choice”, implemented by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in three provinces. Here again, young people are the main actors. Their training includes negotiation and communication skills, and aims at helping young people to resist peer pressure.
A crucial aspect in this context is to strengthen girls, because they are the most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, Ms. Pakkala said. “We all know the saying that teaching a boy is teaching a man. But teaching a girl is teaching a whole nation. That means, if we strengthen our girls and young women we will strengthen the whole society.
Among those to participate in the assembly were Prime Minister Luísa Diogo and the Minister for Youth and Sports, Dr. David Simango.
UNESCO is coordinating the UN support to the National and to the Provincial Youth Councils as part of a joint UN programme. During the three days session of the National Youth Council the more than 100 young delegates elected a new leadership.