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UNICEF, CIDA helping young people make their voices heard

Yough people at a youth consultation in Khartoum.
© UNICEF Sudan/2011
Young people at the consultation in Khartoum with CIDA and UNICEF officials.

By Priyanka Khanna

Khartoum, 12 December 2011 – Ways of enabling young Sudanese to become more actively involved in resolving community and other issues set the agenda of a two-day workshop last week in Khartoum.

The meeting -- which was attended by young people from three of Sudan’s 15 states -- ended with a call for the establishment of formal mechanisms that could bridge the gap between policymakers and youth and ensure that the voices of young people are heard.
 
“We are failing to harness the potential of the youth as there is no partnership between us and the elders,” said youth representative Nagham Hawash, adding: “We hope this consultation marks the start of a real partnership between the young people and the people in power.”
 
The workshop was the first in a series of youth consultations organised under the Youth LEAD (Leadership, Empowerment, Advocacy and Development) Project which is supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Abdulhadi Bashir, Under Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, said: “Young people have the power to change and support change. Whoever is not giving you space is working against what the holy Prophet said many years ago.”

UNICEF Country Representative Nils Kastberg added: “Sudan is a young country. Youth make up one-third of the population of Sudan. If we are not listening to the young and helping them reach their full potential, we are not investing in the future of the country.”Nils Kastberg added: “Sudan is a young country. Youth make up one-third of the population of Sudan. If we are not listening to the young and helping them reach their full potential, we are not investing in the future of the country.” The Youth LEAD Project, launched earlier this year in three conflict-affected states of South Kordofan, South Darfur and Blue Nile, aims to help youth aged 10-24 become productive members of their communities and society more broadly, and to reduce vulnerabilities.
 
Ms. Angela Mione who is in-charge of CIDA’s initiatives in Sudan spoke at the consultation and welcomed the participants at the workshop. She said that the four-year project will support establishment of youth friendly spaces in selected conflict-affected localities, and contribute to strengthening of youth networks and development of demand-driven, youth-centred policies, strategies and services.
 
Highlighting the difficulties faced in the field, one participant, 22-year-old Hawa Mohamed Hasabala said that a mass exodus of young people has taken place from cities like Kadugli even since conflict began in June this year.
 
“It is hard to convince youth to come back to their homes when the security situation is so tense and they have no jobs. But under this initiative, I am trying to convince them to return and speak in favour of peace and reconciliation,” said Hawa who is working with the youth ministry in the state and is one of the youth facilitators under the Youth LEAD Project. “I hope we are able to bring the youth together in my state just like different people have come together here” she said.

Young girl at the consultation in Khartoum.
© UNICEF Sudan/2011/Simon Ingram

 

 
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