African Youth Forum delegates set to deliver their call to action to AU Summit leaders
By Roshan Khadivi
MUNYONYO, Uganda, 23 July 2010 – Bonolo Cebe, 18, of South Africa is one of the three young delegates selected by their peers to present a call to action to leaders at the 15th session of the Assembly of African Union Summit this Sunday, 25 July. Over 100 young people from 40 countries drafted the message earlier this week in Uganda, at the first-ever African Youth Forum, or AYF.
The current session of the bi-annual AU Summit is focusing on maternal, infant and child health and development. The meeting is bringing leaders and Heads of State from 53 African nations, as well as many other international dignitaries, to Uganda.
During the Assembly, the AU Commission will also launch the executive summary of ‘The State of Africa’s Children’ 2010 report. The full report will be released later this year, addressing key children’s issues in the context of a young continent – with roughly half of Africa’s population under 18 years of age and almost two-thirds under 25.
‘A clear message’
“Africa’s development will depend on the opportunities the continent provides to its children and young people to survive, to grow healthy and to develop their full potential,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy, who is attending the AU Summit as head of the UNICEF delegation.
“It is therefore important,” he added, “that the African leaders who have come together for the summit send a clear message to the world that they are committed to strengthen their efforts to improve maternal and child health – and to cut down on the many unnecessary deaths among women and young children.”
Mr. Sy, who addressed the AYF during its session, will accompany the youth delegates as they deliver their call to action to AU leaders. Among other recommendations, the message calls upon governments to support youth-centred initiatives on improving life skills and reproductive health.
African First Ladies’ meeting
To further spread their message, three other AYF delegates will deliver the call to action to the African First Ladies’s meeting, a side event to the AU Summit, on 26 July. Marielle Degboe from Benin is one of them.
“The African Youth Forum has been an opportunity for young people to listen to each other, share and voice their views on issues their communities face every day,” she said. “We are looking forward to take the call to action to the First Ladies’ meeting and find solutions. It is time for our leaders to hear us.”
In the run-up to the AU Summit, the AYF delegates also have been interacting online with students in classrooms in Uganda and Senegal.
A UNICEF initiative, Connective Classrooms, links schools around the world via a common Internet platform, where they work collaboratively on a curriculum that focuses on topics related to the Millennium Development Goals.
As part of this project, AYF delegates in Uganda visited a local clinic, interviewed community members and produced a multimedia report about traditional beliefs involving maternal and child health.