Accra, Ghana; 7 February 2018 – In a town-hall meeting with the UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, young Ghanaians shared a series of policy issues and ideas that were developed by a collective of youth organisations working in Ghana. The policy ideas presented served as an alternative policy framework to address the issues young people faced in Ghana. The town hall meeting was also attended by the High Commissioner of Canada in Ghana, Ms. Heather Cameron, and the UNFPA Ghana Country Representative, Niyi Ojuolape.
The town hall engagement allowed for young people in the room to voice their concerns and the challenges they face in realising their aspirations. A number of issues were raised, and in particular the lack of adequate investment to support youth social and entrepreneurial ventures.
The town-hall heard thematic keynote statements on issues including Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth Participation, the Environment and Entrepreneurship from young presenters. The statements called for continued youth engagement in delivering SRHR outcomes for young people, particularly in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. They called for increased young engagement in political processes, beyond supporting the electoral process. They challenged young people to innovate for environmental conservation, calling for youth to recognise and take advantage of the business opportunities in the environmental conservation and renewable technologies space. And in particular, they recognised the innovative entrepreneurial spirit shown by young Ghanaians, called for investment in support services and resources to spur innovation and mentor new ideas and businesses led by young people.
The Canadian High Commissioner commended the speakers and agreed with their concerns about a lack of financing to deliver on the 2030 Agenda in Ghana, but expressed confidence in ongoing processes to deliver on the sustainable development goals. In Canada, she contrasted, the government was taking the lead in not merely designing a society that allows for the aspirations of both the boy child and the girl child to be unhindered, but one that takes lead globally through its championing of the Feminist International Assisted Policy.
Niyi Ojuolape, the UNFPA Ghana Representative, echoed the High Commissioner’s stance, noting that “not only was a focus on adolescent girl important, the demographic dividend would be very difficult to achieve if the problems of unintended pregnancies and lack of comprehensive sexuality education are not addressed”.
Speaking at the conclusion of the town-hall event, the Youth Envoy drew attention to the fact that the ability of any country to deliver on the sustainable development goals was determined by the degree and proportion of resources it was willing to invest in each goals, and particularly investments in related youth development outcomes. Noting the many concerns young people raised, the Youth Envoy expressed how much she was moved by the drive young people in Ghana have displayed, recalling her visit to the Agblogboshie Market earlier in the day where she met the resilient Kakeyei, mainly female porters. “I want to make a commitment here today. In every intervention I make, I am going to talk about girls and young women.”