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Government Stakeholders and UNFPA Celebrate International Youth Day 2020

12th August, 2020 marked the 20th celebration of the International Youth Day, since its establishment in 1999 and the first celebration in August 2000. To commemorate this day, the National Youth Authority, in collaboration with the United Nations and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Ghana, held a durbar at the Alisa Hotel in Accra. Gracing the occasion were several dignitaries representing government and civil society organisations, as well as young people from youth-led organisations.

In his welcome address, the CEO of the National Youth Authority, Mr Sylvester Tetteh, highlighted the relevance of global theme for this year’s celebration: “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, and the localised theme: “Youth Engagement in Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19; the need for Innovation and creativity”; stating that the day marked the beginning of celebrations to recognize the efforts of young people and empower them to be at the forefront of national and global development.

Mr Niyi Ojuolape, the Representative of UNFPA and the Chair of the UN Youth Group, who represented the UN Resident Coordinator at the event, remarked that this year’s IYD is being observed amidst a pandemic never before experienced by the millions of youth around the world. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted young people, with lives lost and hopes and aspirations dashed. “However, the future can be better if young people are included in the process of bring everything back.”, he mentioned; adding that the crisis offers an opportunity to focus on young people and their needs, because despite the crisis the SDGs must be achieved. 

The Vice President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, in a short address said that the youth are the future of this country, and used the opportunity to congratulate all of Ghana’s youth on the International Youth Day. He called on young people to lead the charge in supporting the government with the fight against coronavirus.

Honourable Isaac Kwame Asiamah, the Minister for Youth and Sports in his address announced that this year’s IYD commemoration will continue in coming days with panel discussions that will bring together about 300 young people and engage about a million more virtually. The aim of these is not just to harness the energies of youth for national and global development, but also to challenge them to be creative to secure their livelihoods through innovation.

The Special Guest of Honour, Her Excellency Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of the Republic, in the final address for the day, expressed heartfelt goodwill to all youth organisations and the young people of Ghana. She commended the NYA for their work in enhancing the overall development of young people, and also for putting together the event. She further commented that, “The International Youth Day is a day to highlight the contributions of young people in the respective communities and to promote and increased awareness and recognition of this all-important demographic, as critical agents of positive change.” She added that the nation has more young people than ever before, who are an unprecedented potential for economic and social progression.

As regards the COVID-19 pandemic, she mentioned that the youth are at risk of being left behind as the implications of the pandemic are keeping them from accessing education, economic opportunities and health care at this crucial stage of their development. She called for a more conscious and deliberate effort to seek the input of youth at all levels of planning and decision making, especially on issues that directly affect them.

She concluded by encouraging all youth to turn every obstacle they encounter into an opportunity to learn and innovate.