The Youth Forum for the 2nd MenEngage Africa Symposium is a platform where young people can contribute to the symposium’s political discussions through their collective ideas, solutions and innovations. The Forum will allow representatives of youth organizations and networks, youth ministries and parliament of Mozambique and Africa in general, to have a dialogue to explore ways and means to promote the development and engagement of young people.
With the slogan “The Africa We Want: Youth Leadership to Strengthen Activism and Partnership on Gender Equality and Social Justice”, the forum to be held on 23rd of April in 2018, will take place in a critical political-social context as the continent undergoes various social, economic and political challenges, among these conflicts, political instability and various practices associated with the violation of human rights. And young people continue to be the population most affected by these challenges in the continent.
Sixty percent of the African population is below the age of 25. Yet the youth in Africa are alienated and marginalized and they are not involved in policy formulation and less consulted in the decision-making process, many are underemployed and with no jobs and the continent is having an energized youth with most of its energy invested in stirring-up conflicts and violence. Proper engagement of youth at all levels of development is of paramount importance. UNECA Youth Report (2009)
The African Union defines youth as individual aged between 15 to 35 years old. For the sake of international agreement, this document employs the UN definition of youth. The African population is estimated to be more than a billion people, among whom more than 65% are young under the age of 35, and the youth make up 40% of Africa’s working age population. In Africa, young people aged 15-24 account for 20.2% of the population. UNECA Youth Report (2009)
Most of the social problems affect the youth most of times and compromise their future. Notwithstanding the important progress the African continent has made in terms of laws, policies and services for the realization of gender justice and human rights, much more needs to be done on issues such as conflict, gender-based violence, sexual and reproductive rights Including premature marriages and HIV. It is known that at least 45% of the continent’s women report having already suffered some form of violence from their intimate partner.
And according to UNICEF, most of the 20 countries with the highest rates of preterm marriages are on the African continent where at least 40% of women married as children.
Sexual assault continues to be heavily used as a weapon of war as well as a form of empowerment, especially in the Great Lakes region and southern Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of women have been raped during conflicts affecting these regions.
Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest rate of new HIV infections worldwide, affecting mainly women and girls who make up more than 50% of people living with HIV in this region. Sub-Saharan Africa also has one of the highest rates of maternal and child mortality, making it one of the worst regions in the world for women to conceive. Africa has been a continent undermined by questionable social, legal, economic, and political structures that, paradoxically, mirror but also reproduce patriarchy. These structures have systematically perpetuated gender inequities and indicators unfavourable to development and human rights.
The Youth Forum towards the 2nd Menengage Symposium is therefore an important space dedicated to the discussion on how to make globalization work for all, and how to get young people to discuss issues that concern them in the first person, discuss specific topics related to the young person’s life itself.
The Forum will contribute to the segment of the 2nd MenEngage Africa Symposium, which will be held from April 23 to 27, 2018, and which will discuss violence; health and wellness; poverty, social exclusion and work; care; relationships and emotions; sexuality and identities; conflict; peace-building and social justice; construction of masculinities in the continent.
These issues affect African youth, especially Mozambican youth daily, and it is important to strengthen youth organizations, youth groups and students in terms of making them major players in the process of social change and transformation in relation to their own lives, with that demand and advocate for better and appropriate public policies for youth and that participate in decision-making processes.
The Forum will address topics of fundamental importance to young African people in the process of development, including the building blocks for education, health, and employment; issues such as climate change, migration, and technology; and the areas where policymakers are most concerned with youth: voice, governance, peace, and violence.
The Forum will gather 70 participants comprising of regional youth institutions representatives, youth advocates in civil society, representatives of the Pan African Youth Parliament, youth from LGBTQ movements, young people living with HIV, women and girl’s movements representatives, as well as representatives of regional and other multilateral organizations.
The Forum will also reflect diversity of youth organizations, representation of youth from all African regions, sexual and gender minorities, persons with disabilities, youths living in rural areas, youth living in informal settlements and both men and women.
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