The African Women in Leadership Organisation Cameroon Youth Council hosted it’s first ever CEMAC Youth Summit on the 8th of February 2020. The summit that was tagged the “Role of the Young Women Leaders in promoting the sustainable development goals”.

As I address this summit at this important time, it becomes very crucial that I state
that we live at a crucial moment when the role of youth and youthfulness is, almost
for the first time in the history of the world, seems critical to the survival and
sustainability of the earth and its resources to its inhabitants across its global length
and breadth.

Indeed, for the first time, it becomes vivid that the young and old, and indeed
people across ages and generations have been on a journey of existential and
economic survival ─ existential because people across the ages have always
understood the need, first to survive, and then to make meaning out of the seeming
world of binaries, contradictions and chaos. However, to support this ‘essential’
pursuit of humanity, men and women over time must also strive to make the
resources of the earth both functional and adaptable to their temporal needs; also
with the assurance that these resources will serve them well into their future
generations.

Ironically, the world today lives in such a very critical and important moment. It is
a time when the physical world that we live in seems to send a red flag with respect
to its ‘treatment’ over the ages. The earth seems to object and raise critical
concerns about the apparent rapid wear-and-tear state and its continuous capacity
to support life and living within it.

Sustaining the Earth is Not a Fashion Statement!

With the simple background just laid, I believe every one of us at this summit can
relate with the idea of a fast-changing world, both in physical and material terms.
The depleting materiality of the earth, today, has affected the high level of
competition between and among people across the world for the limited resources.
In some cases, this is an emotional issue as relationships between political states
and indeed among small settlements across the globe, have been direly negatively
affected. In many cases, conflicts have been protracted, resulting into war situation.
To worsen the scenario, climate change spells further threats for the survival of the
human population on earth. In addition, the survival of the flora and fauna and the
ecosystems at larges has become the subject of critical debates at global
conferences at this time. Regional governments and bodies such as the Economic

Community for West Africa (ECOWAS) and the Central African Economic and
Monetary Community (CEMAC) as well as continental organisations, such as the
African Union and the European Union, and international organisations such as the
United Nations and its chattered sub-Committees, as well as the Organisation for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are today rising up to the
occasion in different ways and dimensions.


Hence, the call and quest towards sustaining the Earth, our Earth, is indeed not a
fashion statement! I say this, because I understand the tendency of young persons
in their vibrancy to follow fashion and to position themselves for new trends. I
think the same way is how the disposition of young person should be towards
themes on sustainability of the globe ─ a concern that now has been captured in the
form of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well now understand them.
The Sustainable Development Goals contain critical themes that capture the state
and condition of the world today, as well as the class relations and politics that
have emerged as a result of competition for the earth’s finite resources.

With this understanding, it should be less surprising to all youths at this meeting
today, that, in the year 2015, leaders from 193 countries of the world came together
to face the future. What did they see at the time? What they saw was daunting and
discouraging ─ floods and famines, droughts, wars, plagues and increasing
poverty. These were no realities for some remote villages and settlements, such as
affected practically everyone globally, regardless of gender, culture, skin
pigmentation or social backgrounds.
Therefore, leaders from these countries created a plan called the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs). They also knew that billions of people worldwide
shared their hope for a better future. Hence, this set of 17 goals imagines a global
future just some few years from now that would be liberated of poverty and
hunger, and safe from the worst effects of climate change, among other factors
plaguing the world.

The Strategic Role of Youth and Young Women

One of the earliest successes of the Sustainable Development Goals is the cutting
to half the rate of global poverty. It is, therefore, believed that the role of the youth
at such times as these is to finish off what has been started and hitherto sustained.
Statistics have continually shown that young people are strategic to global
workforce and the driving of critical change. For instance, it is noted that the
world’s youngest countries are all in Africa, with forecasts for 2020 showing just

one non-African country – Afghanistan – in the top 20. The data, from the United
Nations’ World Population Prospects 2019, is a stark reminder of Africa’s youthful
population. Therefore, such a large number of young people present both a
challenge and opportunity for the continent.

Today, innovations in agriculture, science and technology as well as in economics
and finance are propelled by young people. Young people of African descent are
thus called to join and support the global campaign for sustainable development in
critical areas such as ending extreme poverty in all forms by 2030; ending hunger,
and achieving food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable
agriculture; ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages,
including for persons with disabilities; ensuring inclusive and equitable quality
education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; achieving gender
equality and empower all women and girls, just as AWLO and CEMAC Youths
are pursuing today; ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and
sanitation for all; ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern
energy for all; promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth,
full and productive employment and decent work for all; building resilient
infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster
innovation; reducing inequality within and among countries, in the case of AWLO-
CEMAC, beginning with Central Africa and Africa; making cities and human
settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable; ensuring sustainable
consumption and production patterns; taking urgent action to combat climate
change and its impacts; conserving and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine
resources for sustainable development; protecting, restoring and promoting
sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating
desertification, and halt and reversing land degradation and halt biodiversity loss;
promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing
access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive
institutions at all levels; and lastly, strengthening the means of implementation and
revitalizing the global partnership for sustainable development.

I believe most young women at this summit can relate to all the items and themes
that make up the core areas of focus on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Indeed, young women of Africa have a rare combination of being women, being
young and being African! There is Africa in your blood. Young persons in climate
change and other campaigns have set great precedence to follow. In Central Africa
(the CEMAC context), precisely Yaounde in Cameroon, 15-year-old Divina

Maloum is one of two winners of the 2019 International Children's Peace Prize.
Divina was rewarded for her efforts in promoting children’s rights by visiting
school to warn students against joining armed groups, such as Boko Haram, among
other things.

I believe youth, and indeed young women from the CEMAC region hold the
capacity and capability to step up more campaigns in many of these areas with the
energy and youthfulness notable with Africa. We must together cooperate towards
charting a new direction in making the future of Africa and the world more
promising than we see it today.

Surely, AWLO is already strategically position to drive these global visions as the
successes of its projects and campaigns have already shown. Our iLead school club
curriculum must be better enriched to drive new orientation and relevance of
schooling to a place of global relevance in view of the already highlighted
challenges. We must share ideas and creatively think up ideas that can empower
the young female African youth and, as innovative youth, proffer solutions that can
help the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC)
overcome many of the challenges standing in its path and thus hindering and
incapacitating the youth of the region in fully realizing their problem-solving
potentials beneficial to the cooperating countries within it.

I believe a well-directed action plan towards these highlighted issues hold a great
promise for a better AWLO in Cameroon and CEMAC, and globally, as well for
Africa and the world we presently live in as almost endangered occupants.
Thank you for your cooperation and great courtesy.
Long live the African Women in Leadership Organisation!
Long live the Central African Economic and Monetary Community!
Long live Africa and the world!

Dr. Elisha Attai
Founder, African Women in Leadership Organisation