Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States are committed to promoting youth empowerment through ongoing regional programmes as the youth in the Region play an active role in the implementation of regional policies and activities through their established structures, SADC Executive Secretary, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, has said.
H.E Dr Tax was speaking during a courtesy call by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Senior Advisor for partnerships and resource mobilisation under the Generation Unlimited (GenU) movement, Ms. Nadi Albino, on 2nd July 2021.
The courtesy call, which was facilitated by the Office of the President for the Republic of Botswana, saw the two discuss collaborative initiatives to empower young people to become productive and engaged members of society in the SADC Region. Under the overall coordination of UNICEF, GenU is a global multi-sector partnership to meet the urgent need for expanded education, training and employment opportunities for young people aged 10 to 24 years.
H.E Dr Tax stated that the Region’s established programmes on skills development, employment and youth empowerment, which promote realisation of the demographic dividend, were closely aligned to GenU objectives.
In this regard, she welcomed the appointment of His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi, President of the Republic of Botswana, as a GenU champion within the SADC Region and expressed confidence that this positive development would unlock new empowerment opportunities for young people in Botswana, and the Region at large. She underscored the need to ensure synergy and complementarity among key actors, notably the youth themselves, in addressing the many challenges they faced and ensuring their full contribution to the socio-economic development agenda.
Ms. Albino informed the Executive Secretary that by virtue of its existence, GenU was mandated by UNICEF to bring together the private sector, governments, multilateral organisations, civil society, and young people through mutual and cordial engagements in finding lasting solutions to challenges faced by millions of young people. She outlined the work conducted by GenU under different workstreams to modernise education and training and foster job preparation through apprenticeship, mentorship and entrepreneurship; to increase work and livelihood opportunities available to youth; and to engage youth as change makers. Ms. Albino mentioned that the private sector and young people were key players in these initiatives, expressing optimism that partnership with SADC would go a long way in creating an enabling environment for the GenU initiative.
The parties acknowledged and underscored that young people in the SADC Region and the rest of theworld represented enormous opportunities to transform economic and social outcomes, thus it was critical to invest in young people with a view to enhance productivity and standards of living at regional, continental and global levels.
Therefore, the parties committed to establish cooperation modalities to implement responsive interventions to address challenges facing youth in the Region. The technical teams from SADC and UNICEF were tasked to explore opportunities for concrete actions to be implemented by both sides, ensuring youth participation in the process.
Also attending the meeting was the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, Acting Permanent Secretary to the President from the Office of the President for the Republic of Botswana, Ms. Matshidiso Bokole, and UNICEF Representative to Botswana and SADC, Dr Joan Matji.