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2021 World Population Day Commemorated in Ghana with the Induction of new cohort of the Youth Leadership Fellowship programme (YoLe)

Every year, the world commemorates the World Population day, a day set aside by the United Nations to highlight key population issues across the world. This year, on 12 July 2021, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) marked the day with a celebration at the Alisa Hotel and in addition inaugurated the third cohort of the YoLe fellowship- a cohort of twenty-five young people.

This year’s WPD theme Rights and Choices are the answer: Whether baby boom or bust, the solution lies in prioritizing the reproductive health and rights of all people” offered a broad canvas for an array of conversations on the need to prioritize reproductive health and rights. In Ghana, the conversation focused more on young people taking up the reigns to accelerate achievements in reproductive health and rights, as the Ghanaian theme for the day was “prioritizing reproductive health is the answer to rights and choices”.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Charles Abani in his welcome remarks said the reason for the twin celebration is to ensure young people are the change agents for populated related issues. He disclosed that Ghana is one of the UN’s ten Youth fast track countries (FTC), globally, supported by the Secretary General’s Youth Envoy’s Office to showcase the UN Youth Strategy (Youth2030) implementation and fast track results to achieve the SDGs.

In her keynote address, the Executive Director of National Population Council, Dr. Leticia Appiah recounted the need for young people to be engaged at all levels during the decision-making process as it affects their development. She said: “if success and quality life is our common goal, we need to engage for the sake of succession. Succession planning is a strategy for seamlessly passing on leadership roles, therefore we need to provide young people with the space to be innovative and creative for our own good”. She explained that when the youth are provided with right resources, they can be agents of change in the society in relation to issues the advancement of reproductive health.

The country representative of UNFPA Ghana, Niyi Ojuolape shared the sentiments of Dr. Leticia Appiah on the need for including young people at the decision-making process hence the relevance of the fellowship. He quoted the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres; “from climate action to gender equality to social justice and human rights, this generation of young people is on the frontline and in the headlines and I am inspired by their passion”.

In the spirit of engaging young people as change makers, the special guest for the occasion, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Hon. Mustapha Ussif, inducted the UNFPA third cohort of YoLe Fellows during the commemoration. The cohort made up of 25 young graduates of tertiary institutions have backgrounds in various academic disciplines and a shared passion for improving reproductive health outcomes. The Minister noted that the youth played an integral role in the country as they constitute about 50% of the population hence investing in them goes a long way in achieving the demographic dividend. He advised the YoLe fellows to take full advantage of the opportunity, so they can contribute meaningfully to society.

To grace the celebration was the award-winning and dancehall artiste, Livingstone Etse Satekla, better known by his stage name Stonebwoy. He pledged his support to youth development in Ghana. “I’m passionate about youth development and working to make Ghana my motherland better.’ He echoed.

The occasion was well attended by members of the diplomatic corps, colleagues from the UN system, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), partners from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as identified mentors for the YoLe programme.