World Development Youth Engagement
Panel of speakers discuss the global youth issues during the Global Youth Forum in Washington, DC (Photo: Brandon Payne/World Bank Group/Flickr)

The world’s development requires youth engagement

  • Somtochukwu Ugwu

Youth are by nature creative, innovative, energetic and vibrant. It is these traits that allow youth to design and formulate various ideas and projects globally. These ideas and projects when designed correctly are usually geared towards tackling various global issues like gender inequality, poverty, food insecurity, etc. Youth are also innately blessed with the energy to ensure that any idea or project which they design comes to fruition and becomes successful. Finally, in this regard, youth can be seen as both problem solvers and goal-getters.

Furthermore, youth currently have the largest demography all across the various continents of the world. Currently in Africa, an estimated 60% of the population is young people. This places youth at a strategic point in the world. This great demography can be a resource in efforts to address many of the world’s challenges. Youth can serve as movement builders and galvanisers leading on critical development and change matters.

On the flip-side, it is really saddening to see that youth are generally ignored and disenfranchised globally. We have sadly seen youth not allowed to lead politically, economically and socially in various economies of the world. Although, we have seen some progress amongst countries in the global north, the same cannot be said about countries in the global south. We have also sadly seen countries in the global south stagnating youth voices and agency. This has invariably led to the poor development strides recorded in such countries.

If world leaders and policy makers are serious about global development, then they have to engage more with youth. The time is now and it’s long overdue. These engagements can be done politically, economically and socially. On this International Youth Day (IYD), I call on governments and world economies to give youth more opportunities to exercise their voices and agency. When tapping into this under-utilised resource that is the youth, the world will become better off and experience huge development.

Edited by Khopotso Bodibe, MenEngage Africa Media & Communications Specialist.