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General News of Saturday, 11 August 2018

Source: Erica Ehiamah

UNICEF Ghana organises adolescent and youth engagement meeting for young advocates

UNICEF Ghana has organised a consultation with young advocates passionate about youth and adolescent-related issues for the development of a Communication Strategy on youth and adolescent engagement ahead of the International Youth Day celebration.

Today, young people aged 10 to 24 make up one-quarter of the world’s population. As the largest generation in history, the aspirations and achievements of these 1.8 billion people pose as an amazing opportunity for development through empowerment and inclusion in every policy implemented.

Investing in all areas ranging from protection of human rights, ensuring access to quality education and healthcare as well as decent employment opportunities must be a global priority of every country.

Speaking at the Adolescent and Young Consultative Meeting yesterday, Country Representative for UNICEF Ghana, Anne- Claire Dufay mentioned the organisation’s decision to involve young people in its activities due to their ideas that can be implemented to solve societal issues.

“Young people rarely have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives, yet they have immense energy, talent and creativity that are needed for development.

She added that, “the contribution of adolescent and young people will be featured in the Public Advocacy Communication Strategy for the launch of the Young People’s Agenda by UNICEF in September that will work to create opportunities for young people so that every young person is in school, learning a skill or is employed by 2030.”

Research suggests that programs for youth which are developed through a partnership of youth and adults may be highly effective in building young people's skills and reducing their sexual risk-taking behaviours.

As stated by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, “Young people are enormous assets to our societies. We must cherish them, invest in them and empower them”. Governments must realise the important role young people play in achieving the SDGs and empower them for a sustainable future for the generation to come.

Launch of U-Report Ghana

Speaking on the launch of U-Report in Ghana, Communication for Development Specialist at UNICEF Ghana, Geeta Sharma, in a brief presentation indicated that Ghana will be the 47th country to join the launch and use the innovation that provides a free SMS-based tool designed to address issues that Ghanaians care about.

According to Ms.Sharma, the tool allows a 24/7 opportunity for U-Reporters to speak-out on what is happening in communities and sends that information to relevant government departments for their action, planning and information.

“It is an opportunity to access relevant information that enables you to work for change and improvements in your community. Some issues polled include teenage pregnancy, sexual reproductive rights, open defecation, education, youth unemployment, HIV/AIDS, disease outbreaks, child marriage, violence towards children, cyberbullying, child online protection, among others. It’s a free registration by texting JOIN to 1755 using MTN and Vodafone.”

Way Forward

Most youth and adolescents face numerous challenges such as lack of comprehensive sexuality education, access to contraceptives and reproductive health services. For a better solution, we must increase youth's knowledge, improving services for young people, and encouraging youth's participation in programme decisions for a better future.