“On the cusp of International Youth Day and its theme of “Youth Building Peace” this year, UN-Habitat calls for all youth to spread the message of peace,.”
At the beginning of 2012, the world population surpassed 7 billion with people under the age of 30 accounting for more than half of this number (50.5%). According to the survey, 89.7% of people under 30 lived in emerging and developing economies. In matters conflicts, youth play a significant role. Every estimate of direct conflict deaths suggests that more than 90% of all casualties occur among young adult males. Young women make up 10-30% of armed forces and armed groups worldwide. In 2008, an estimated 100,000 girls under 18 were fighting in armed conflicts globally. In 2011, around 14 million youth were forcibly displaced by conflict and disasters. Today, that number is much higher. Conversely, youth have a substantial role in peace building.
The 2017 theme of the International Youth Day couldn’t be more apt: “Youth Building Peace”.
This day, observed on August 12th is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. Further, it should include efforts made towards promoting and engaging young people in governance processes and decision making. UN-Habitat has been at the forefront in engaging youth across the globe in the peace building processes and today’s call for all youth in Kenya to spread the message of peace through out and after 2017 Kenyan elections.
Dr. Kacyira, Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Executive Director of UN-Habitat, highlighted that the youth centers provide at risk youth with safe, generative space where they can develop leadership skills, ICT, entrepreneurship and vocational training as well as access to health services. “The centers serve as a place where youth can develop soft and transferable skills to enter the labor market,’ said Dr. Kacyira, while speaking at the YouthConnekt Africa Summit 2017 held at Rwanda, July 19-21st 2017.
Residents of Mathare informal settlement – one of the biggest in Nairobi, Kenya – are one of Nairobi’s beneficiaries of the One Stop Youth Resources Ccenters in Kenya. Peter Kaka, head of Mathare One Stop Youth Centre, recently shared that the center had secured and established the new Slum Soccer football pitch. Peter mentioned Innovative Kenya, ICT center , as another measurable success by the UN-Habitat efforts in peace building process.
Across the border in Rwanda, more than 312,000 Rwandan youth in just five years have gained training from the centers. Rwanda is a state that suffered a genocide which saw over 800,000 Rwandans killed in 100 days. The one stop centers have contributed to inclusion of youth in governance – a key contributor to the transformation of Rwanda as an ICT nation. It is important to note that Rwanda also held successful-peaceful national elections on August 4th 2017.
Kenyan youth have embraced the model and taken the same empowerment route to engage in building resilience and conflict resolution against the volatile tribal gaps in the country. “We will keep our interactive social media conversations with active online community members to sensitize on the essence of maintaining peace before and after elections”, said Peter Kaka in his closing remarks about the elections fever.
UN -Habitat will also recognized efforts by youth building peace in Colombia and awarded the Colombia Urban Youth Fund to successful organizations following prior submission of project proposals. This is a timely move as the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia insurgents are about to reach a comprehensive peace agreement after almost four years of peace negotiations in Havana.
Youth are the next leaders and problem solvers and so should be getting involved now since they are the ones that have to live with the consequences of choices that are made. Awareness needs to be raised to governments and powerful decision makers that the youth have skills and abilities that should be utilized and harvested rather than ignored. Consequently, both the youth and governments need to work together to create a positive and beneficial peaceful relationship.
UN-Habitat is committed to working with local governments to create opportunities for youth to participate in the decisions making process and play a major role maintaining peace in their cities, as these approaches create conducive environments for investment, innovation, business, employment and civic participation.