10 April 2019

Liberia: National Youth Policy Under Review

The House of Representatives has commenced scrutinizing a bill titled: "An Act to Endorse the National Youth Policy of Liberia: An Agenda for Action," submitted by President George Weah for enactment to ensure that young people, between the ages of 15 and 35 years old, are integrated, and involved in all development processes, including their improvement of economic conditions by re-designing existing youth programs and projects.

Plenary, the highest decision making body of the House of Representatives, mandated the House Joint Committee on Youth and Sports, the Judiciary and Gender Equity, Child Development and Social Welfare to review and report to the august body one week after the Easter break, which begins on Friday, April 12, 2019. On Thursday, April 4, which marked the 24th day sitting, the House Plenary voted to make the decision.

The "Act to Endorse the National Youth Policy of Liberia," is in consonance with the 70th Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly held on December 12, 1997, adopted Resolution (A/RES/52/83), which reaffirmed the importance of youth. It called on member countries to involve youth and their-related organizations in all matters of concern to them. Furthermore, in July, 2006, African Union Heads of State and Governments, including Liberia, at a meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, endorsed the African Youth Charter (AYC) as a political and legal document to serve as the strategic framework that gives direction for youth empowerment at continental, regional and national levels.

In the President's communication to both the Senate and the House of Representatives, he writes: "Mindful that young people constitute the larger part of our country's population, the government has committed to empower the youths, and to put their issues on the national agenda through the National youth Policy document, which was prepared in consultation with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the young people themselves and partners."

"This Act, when passed into law, will endorse the policy document, which is expected to enhance young people's human capacity, innovation, unity and sense of responsibility towards our socio-economic and political processes," the communication said.

Priority Target Groups

According to the Bill, the government shall in particularly direct its attention, through appropriate intervention and empowerment programs, toward Youths with disability; streets youths; youths affected by HIV/AIDS; unemployed youths; out of schools youths; and youths affected by the conflict (civil wars and Ebola outbreak of 2014).

"For instance, in the draft bill states that immediately upon it passage, concessions and the business community shall be encouraged to award scholarships, internships, employment opportunities and support for amusement or recreation for the youths; and responsibilities of parents/guardians, say it shall be the duty of every parent/guardian to ensure that youths, including those with disabilities within the age bracket of 15 to 18 years, grow up in an environment of warmth, affection, security and stability."

"The role of youth organizations in the bill is to identify, plan, develop, recommend and implement achievable projects."

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