This year marks the 21st year since 1999 when the United Nations’ General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers of Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day.
Ladies and gentlemen, the International Youth Day indeed gives an opportunity to celebrate and to mainstream young peoples’ voices, actions, and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal, and equitable engagement. For the first time since 1999, this year’s commemorative event will take the form of a podcast-style discussion that is hosted by youth for youth, together with independently organized commemorations around the world that recognize the importance of youth participation in political, economic and social life and processes.
For the African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO) Youth Council, we have resolved to converge on a zoom platform to mark this important occasion.
As an important highlight of the day, I have, in line with this year’s theme, chosen to simply and naturally think in the direction of youth engagement as a critical catalyst for global action in the era of increased and yet increasing change.
Environmental and climate change has remained prominent in the front burner of issues being tackled globally, as this impact directly and directly on all aspects of human, environmental, social, and for the first time, economic life.
As the next generation of people, global youths must begin to reposition for impact at a global scale and from diverse shades of directions.
First, youths must begin to reposition to take proactive steps at engaging in their communities for global action. This is because influence or impacts, no matter of what scale, often begin to find expression at local community levels. Global youths must, therefore, begin to find their own voice through community services and develop a requisite experience for global relevance.
Secondly, to be relevant at community levels, youths must be ready to engage in their immediate family for global action. Clearly, the family is the bedrock of any society. Youth who must make relevant impact must be conscious of the value which the family holds for individuals and communities. In essence, the family also forms the launching pad for creativity and the development of basic leadership skills required for social change. While it is true that our family is a circle of strength of love and, with every birth and every union, the circle grows, it is absolutely also true, the thought by Winston Churchill, that “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues… are created, strengthened, and maintained.”
Thirdly, youths must engage at school and educational levels for global action. As Nelson Mandela has said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ As such, the AWLO youth as members of the African and global communities, must begin a process of orientation and attuning themselves to the reality of the strength inherent in real quality education. This is the most veritable vehicle by which any youth, and indeed anyone, can propel themselves to greater heights. With education, the family, the community, and the world cannot go wrong.
Lastly, youth must now be engaging in their respective worship centers or religion for global action. In this regard, youths must come to the realization that the world is now their country, and all mankind their brethren, and to do good is my religion. Youth groups like ours must realize that religion serves to give good expression to morality. Modest morality, like education, can also not go wrong. With a new shade of global and international morality, mankind, all science, education, religious creeds, family and community come to a place of common understanding that the globe is our home and we must engage with a continually more sustainable approach. This way, the world becomes a better place habitable for all present life and future existence.
Thank you for your attention!
Dr. Elisha Attai
African Women in Leadership Organisation