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Botswana is still the only country in the SADC region that has not yet signed the African Youth Charter (AYC), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative, Ms Aisha Camara-Drammeh has said.

Ms Camara-Drammeh said this when officially opening the five-day advocacy and leadership training workshop for Youth Leaders and Establishment of Africa Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development (AfriYAN) Botswana Chapter on June 17.

Although the country had not yet signed the charter, Ms Camara-Drammeh said, “Botswana is doing so many things that the charter is saying. So, what is needed is for you as youth to advocate for government to sign.”

For the development of Botswana and beyond, Ms Camara-Drammeh said prioritising the issues of adolescent and youth in the country was crucial, as they remained a large cohort of the population.

"The recent Global Youth Forum (GYF) that was held in Bali, Indonesia, was yet another reminder for the need to create space for young people to take the leadership in programme design and implementation, as well as influence in policy direction,” she said.

“The case of investing in young people is compelling to us. To respond to issues of young people, more now than ever before, over 60 per cent of the population of Botswana is below 35 years, of which 33.5 per cent is between 10 and 24 years. This therefore shows that young people are not only an opportunity for the development of the country, but above all, they are a crucial resource to tap into,” she added.

Although Botswana had succeeded in getting the youth to school, she said majority of young people continued to face high unemployment and under employment, high teenage pregnancies and limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, including comprehensive sexual education.

“Of those seeking employment, the majority are youth, 34 per cent aged between 20 and 24 years, 22 per cent aged between 25 and 29 years, while 41 per cent are adolescents aged between 15 and 19 years,” said Ms Camara-Drammeh.

This, she said was suggesting that the majority were lost between senior and junior secondary schools. When highlighting a few points on why there was need to focus on youth participation, she said the first reason was that youth were the leaders of today and the future to come.

“It is important to acknowledge that youth are leaders of today, hence the challenges they encounter will be better understood, planned for and responded comprehensively to when they as youth are brought to the discussion table to shape their own future and I think that is why we are here today,” she added.

Reflecting on the youth development in Botswana, Ms Boikanyo Modungwa said youth forums where crucial as they provided an opportunity for the youth to express and share ideas on issues that affected them.

Besides helping creating a platform for them to be able to discuss all the issues facing the youth, Ms Boikanyo said these fora also helped them to focus on coming up with solutions, rather than just focusing on the problems. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lorato Gaofise

Location : GABORONE

Event : Youth workshop

Date : Jun 18 Tue,2013