First National Youth Conference gives hope
By Viola Matela
Wednesday morning saw Juba Grand Hotel decorated with youth from different regions of South Sudan gathered together in a historic celebration of their youthfulness. The day provided a moment of reflection on some of the most critical challenges facing the youth, and associated with their development, in their respective communities.
The conference brought together various stakeholders for a public discourse on the youth in South Sudan with a view to building partnerships cutting across government, NGOs, private sector and youth groups. The forum also advocated for the youth to be included in public discussion on youth challenges with a specific focus on entrepreneurial, vocational skills development and access to finances.
The inaugural youth conference organized by the Ministry of Culture Youth, and Sports (MOCYS) with support from UNESCO, UNMISS, UNFPA run for two days under the theme; Promotion of Youth Voices for Sustainable Peace and Development in South Sudan.
The ceremony started with a prayer from the first artist from Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) who sang about peace and freedom. This was followed by a cultural dance by youth from YWCA consisting of different traditional dances that brought the crowds to the feet with shouts of joy.
Agum Ring, the Undersecretary of MOCYS revealed the objectives of the summit as establishing the state of youth in the country and mobilizing them for meaningful participation in matters of public interest.
She noted that there was need to invest in them through providing education, sustainable health and initiating developmental projects for youth.
Dr. Albino Bol Dhieu, President of National Youth Union in his speech observed the need to stop cultural practices like early marriage of the girl child who had become “a hard currency to bring wealth and cattle to the family.”
Alain Noudehou, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General urged the government to take investing in the youth a serious priority.
“Investing in the youth is the responsibility of government but also requires back up from other stakeholders like UN and its agencies alongside the private sector, Civil Society and the youth themselves,” Mr. Noudehou said.
Noudehou emphasized the need to recognize youth who constitute 73% of this country’s population as “people who were different from each other and be sensitive to each unique need each one brings with them.”
He argued that recognizing youth would mean respect for the tribal diversity of the country.
Mr. Noudehou called for a culture of tolerance together with respect for each other since leadership comes with responsibility.
“You must promote peace in all your endeavors; schools, work and communities,” he told the youth leaders.
Noudehou also reiterated the need for youth to protect vulnerable groups if they were to see any sustainable development or peace.
According to the Deputy Representative of the UN Secretary General, this was the kind of leadership that would benefit in its recovery journey going forward.