Our Voice Our Future: A Call to Action from half a million young people across Africa and Europe

Youth call on European and African leaders to include their voices in the policy-making process

U-Reporters in Abidjan, in the South of Côte d'Ivoire.  As soon as the first cases of coronavirus appeared in Africa, UNICEF Côte d’Ivoire developed and implemented a communication strategy to raise awareness, reassure people and provide the right information to Ivorians. This emergency communications strategy uses various tools, partnerships and platforms put in place in the past few years that are now used for emergency communications such as strong partnerships with the government.
UNICEF/UNI319216/Frank Dejongh
28 July 2021

Dear African and European leaders,

We, a team of 7 UNICEF U-Report Youth Ambassadors, are writing to you on behalf of half a million young people from across Africa and Europe, who recently took part in the Your Voice Your Future polls (digital survey). 

The polls provided an opportunity for young people to share their opinions on key topics and their hopes and dreams for the future - including the future partnership between Europe and Africa.  The findings were meaningful and candid.  A summary of the poll’s results are listed below, divided into key thematic areas.

It is no secret that young people and their families across both continents are suffering in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing socio-economic crisis and the impacts of climate change.  Increased poverty and school closures have also led to lack of hope and opportunity for many young people. Our future is at stake.

However, we truly believe that as leaders, you have the power to change this.  We hope that you will work with us to reimagine a better future and "build back better" after the COVID-19 pandemic. Including our voices in the policy making process is the first important step in achieving this.

We are confident that by doing this, you will provide a better future for young people across both continents.

On behalf of all the young people involved in the Your Voice Your Future campaign, we thank you.

Yours sincerely

Alexandru Draghia, Romania

Ayesha Khuele, Lesotho

Cyril Otabil, Ghana

Maria Alexandrova, Bulgaria

Siatra Msandu, Zimbabwe

Raphael Dennis, Tanzania

Zainab Yunusa, Nigeria

Nina, a 17 years old Student, uses a megaphone to elevate her voice the environmental issues affecting her
UNICEF/UN0364424/Aliaga Ticona

Key Recommendations from the Your Voice Your Future Report

1. Education, skills and jobs

  • Increase allocation for education budgets for the children and youth in the poorest regions.
  • Increase training and learning opportunities for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities.
  • Digitalize the education sector; introducing digital learning opportunities and revising school curricula to improve quality.

2. Digital transformation and social infrastructure

  • Ensure that all young people have access to electricity and internet; improving internet connectivity, infrastructure and the availability of affordable internet - particularly for the most disadvantaged youth.
  • Invest in online safety campaigns, for children and parents, including the prevention of online bullying and harassment.
  • Increase availability to digital skills training for young people, particularly those from disadvantaged communities.

3. Governance, peace and security

  • Ensure that all children and youth living in conflict zones have access to quality education, including increasing teacher training and access to online learning.
  • Ensure that political leaders and decision makers listen to the voices of young people - and include them in policy and budget allocations, for example by increasing youth political representation on Government decision making committees.
  • Increase youth quotas in political offices at the national, regional and local levels; providing more paid internships and other entry-level opportunities.

4. Climate change and the green transition

  • Increase investment in renewable energy, reducing fossil fuel emissions and protecting the health of young people.
  • Ensure that climate change is included in national curricula and practical environmental protection training is available to youth everywhere.
  • Increase environmental job opportunities for young people in both the public and private sectors, by increasing paid internship and entry-level positions, particularly for young people from the most disadvantaged communities.