African Youth Push for Fulfillment of Promises to Women and Girls

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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 to 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 developing partnerships to reverse 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 joined the 150 representatives of young people from across Africa at the two-day forum. Their recommendations on health, education, employment, participation and peace and security will be shared with government leaders who will gather in Addis Ababa from October 3 - 4.

The purpose of the meeting is to identify the region's critical priorities for addressing gaps, challenges and emerging issues in to accelerate progress towards the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action which has shaped policy particularly in relation to the rights and needs of women, girls and young people in the region for the past 20 years.

The meeting will deliver an African common position on ICPD beyond 2014 and will feed into the UN Secretary General's global report on 2014 General Assembly.

Jointly issued by ECA, UNFPA and AUC

Media inquiries: kibel[at]unfpa[dot]org denekews[at]uneca[dot]org or mwambui[at]uneca[dot]org

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