Saturday 17 April 2021
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What are you fighting for? Youth are key drivers to change

In life we have choices, we have dreams, we have goals but what do they all mean when our society around us is fighting to eradicate poverty, improve health and education systems, end social, economic and religious conflict and abolish bad governance and leadership and then YOU choose to just go on with “business as usual” and do nothing as if they do not matter…because they do Matter, if our country is crumbling socially and economically it will affect our prospects of getting a good Job or starting a business, the quality of health and education you will receive.
The question is, what are you fighting for? Our generation, the youth, are key to innovative ideas to some of our problems in society and there is a need to tap into our potential and capabilities. There are 1.8 billion young people in the world between the ages of 10 and 24 years of age that make up our future economic and social progress in our respective countries and it is up to each and every one of us to ensure that the needs of young people are not undermined but are fully defined, realised and prioritised. What will our countries look like if half the population of young people chose to commit and be involved in our countries ‘social and economic development issues. Whose responsibility is it? We choose to either build or destroy our city, so we have a role to play.
The African Union is talking about Agenda 2063, which is a strategy towards youth development and harnessing the demographic dividend in Africa. 163 member states committed to 17 sustainable goals at the United Nations, September 2015 which will inform policies in our respective countries and it’s up to US to get involved and be part of these issues that affect us. Nothing for us, without us!
What are you fighting for? I chose to fight for those that a socially disadvantaged because national development is not about a class or category of people BUT everyone benefitting from it. I am currently the President of a Regional Youth Network called AfriYAN (African Youth and Adolescent Network) that works with different youth networks in East and Southern Africa that is a key driver carrying the sexual reproductive health and Rights agenda forward.   Did you know that? If we left half a population of young people exposed to HIV infections, early child marriage, teenage pregnancy, low quality education, inaccessibility of health services especially youth friendly health services then we lose out on 50% percent of human capital that will make up the next working age population that can nurture economic development? Yes, when you realise that our inaction and passiveness can affect a whole nation, you will be driven to do something.
I also serve in a regional social justice forum, to ensure equal rights for all and this made me realise that if we want to make a difference in our society then we, young people need to discover our skills and passions to meaningfully contribute to building a nation that we wish to see. Most young people graduate, get a job, and go on with life but never realise that in every sector: business, government, non- governmental organisations, hospitals, schools and agriculture all play a significant role towards national development and you can choose to ignite and unleash solutions to the problems around us.  Choose to fight for the world you want to see and be a part of. A lot of us like to sit and complain and not do anything about it but YOU CAN, you can actually do something about it.  I produced a T.V Drama series called, “Don’t Kiss and Tell” that was targeted to change behaviour patterns and attitudes among young people on HIV and Gender Based Violence that screened on the Namibian Broadcasting station.  Without any funds I actively pursued the support of various national ministries and development agencies like the UN to support the program and after two years, after proper research and getting the evidence to prove that media influences behaviour patterns, I received the support that I needed from the American Embassy, UNFPA, TN mobile, Radio Energy, NBC, National Film Commission and Lifeline/Childline. So even if you have to start the journey alone, you will eventually get to a place where people will believe in your vision and support it.  I hope you will realise what potential you have and what role you can play towards fostering a better future for our country. Your legacy matters too.


Tikhala Itaye

President, AfriYAN, East and Southern Africa
KP REACH National Programme Officer (Malawi)

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