Addis Ababa — An appeal has gone out to the world to invest more resources in young people and ensure their human rights in order to promote socio-economic development and growth.
Speakers at the Youth forum preceding the African Regional Conference on Population and Development made the appeal at the opening of the event yesterday in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
According to Mr. Faustin Yao, the United Nations Population Fund 's (UNFPA) Representative to Ethiopia, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994 resolved to give attention to the needs and potentials young people, especially girls before the next conference next year. But many of the promises to young people remain unfulfilled, Mr. Yao observed.
"Millions of girls and women worldwide still are without adequate sexual and reproductive health services and universal access to comprehensive sexuality education for young people is yet to be delivered."
Also, equal access for the youth to health, education and economic opportunities doubles the potential for development and helps societies to break the cycle of poverty which is still prevalent in Africa, he said.
Similarly, Mr. Hassan Yousif, Representative of the Human and Social Development Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), reminded the gathering that Africa is the youngest continent with a majority of its population below the age of 30 years.
He said addressing their concerns in terms of "education, health, employment, inclusive participation, governance and security, remains one of Africa's priorities." Meeting these needs is crucial to maintaining the region's peace and development, he added.
In her own speech, Noemi Espinoza Madrid, Adviser in the Office of the UN Secretary General's Envoy on Youth, urged participants to make concrete recommendations that would form part of the contributions to the ICPD review process.
Besides making the youth's voices heard at the UN, she identified the reversal of growing unemployment and inequalities among the world's 1.8 billion young people as part of the mandate of the Envoy on Youth.
Participants from UN agencies, civil society organizations and representatives of youths from across Africa are attending the two-day forum. The theme of this year's conference is "Harnessing the demographic dividend: The future we want".
The youth forum precedes a meeting of experts taking place from September 30 to October 2 also in Addis Ababa. The regional Ministerial conference will then be held at the same venue from October 3 - 4 to enable Africa under a common platform to incorporate its priorities in the UN Secretary General's report to the 2014 General Assembly.
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