Representatives of African Youth Issue Call to Action to AU Summit
Over a 100 young people from all over Africa gathered in Entebbe, Uganda from 17-19 July at the first ever African Youth Forum. The event was conceived as a platform for discussion and recommendations from youth delegates in the run-up to the African Union Summit (25-27 July). In line with the core theme of the Summit, the participants, aged between 16 and 29, discussed issues of maternal and child health.
After having been addressed by Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni on the first day of their gathering, delegates spent three days debating a common message to the AU Heads of State. Their discussions resulted in a call to action that addresses both politicians and fellow young people across the African continent. Among other things, the text calls on governments to "… integrate, scale up and regularly update life skills and sexual reproductive health education into school curricula as well as out of school programmes…". The statement further pushes for investment into youth-led initiatives and youth centres with a focus on life skills, sexual reproductive health, research, advocacy, monitoring and training. The conclusions of the meeting also stress the need for young people to make accountable and responsible regarding their health and sexual life.
Participants of the African Youth Forum subsequently selected two people from their ranks to deliver the call to action to the AU Summit on 25 July. The organisers' objective is to establish the African Youth forum as an integral and regular component of future AU Summits.
The African Youth Forum follows a model that has also been successfully applied prior to the Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon in 2007, when the first Africa-Europe Youth Summit was jointly staged by four organisations: The European Youth Forum, the Pan African Youth Union, the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and, the Portuguese National Youth Council.
The Africa-EU partnership that was established in Lisbon embraces a people-centered approach which assigns a significant role to civil society organisations in the implementation of its Joint Strategy. Moreover, young people are recognised as key actors, with "the empowerment of Europe's and Africa's youth" being a shared priority. This provides a fitting background for the next large-scale event that will allow young people to make their voices heard in government corridors across the two continents: on 25-28 November 2010 the second Africa-Europe Youth Summit will be held in Libya, on the eve of the Africa-EU Summit. Once more, young people can be expected to express their unique voice on the central issues debated by Heads of State and Government.