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Youth call for the bridging of intergenerational divide in Africa

100 youth leaders from 22 African countries gathered in Banjul, Gambia from 9-10 May 2017 to develop new strategies for peacebuilding and regional solidarities in Africa. This international conference was an opportunity to celebrate youth contribution to democratic transition in the Gambia, and also an occasion to reflect on youth movements’ role in the transition and consolidation of democracy on the African continent.

The conference that was held under the title, “Youth, Peacebuilding and Regional Solidarity: Lessons from Africa” provided a platform to reflect on the opportunities and challenges of youth development on the continent and finding common ground on how to collectively address such challenges. It was made possible through the support of the Government of the Gambia, UNESCO and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA).

Participants and speakers at the conference called for the bridging of the intergenerational divide in Africa in order to achieve peace and reduce conflicts on the continent.“We have to overcome the intergenerational divide to avoid further violence and conflicts in Africa,” Mr Ibrahim Ceesay, Executive Director of African Artists Peace Initiative said; before adding: “We have to question exclusion, migration due to inimical political environment, and promises that have never been met on our continent,”

Lead youth organisations and movements such as the Pan-African Youth Movement for a Culture of Peace (a network established with support of UNESCO), Yen a Marre (from Senegal), GambiaHasDecided, Balai Citoyen (from Burkina Faso) and Students Movement Association (Malawi) attended and contributed to the deliberations and outcomes of the conference. Pan-African leaders such as Professor Abdoulaye Bathily, outgoing UN Secretary General Special Envoy for Central Africa and Honourable Halifa Sallah, Member of Parliament in the Gambia were also in attendance.

Despite the positive strides that have been made to put youth concerns at the heart of development agendas and increase the participation of youth in governance, peace and development processes in the region, the youth’s participation in society is still limited by a number of challenges and weaknesses in existing frameworks and interventions. These challenges and weakness include: participation without representation; limited allocation of resources for the advancement of youth; economic marginality; and skills deficits.

UNESCO Regional Office for the Sahel under the aegis of Dr. Marèma Thiam Touré supported this important international initiative as part of its youth development and civic education programmes. The Social and Human Sciences (SHS) Programme of Dakar Regional Office is committed to empowering youth with the utmost contribution of Culture and Education programmes to drive social innovation and participate fully in the development of their societies; eradicate poverty and inequality, and foster a culture of peace, gender equality intercultural dialogue with a consistent agenda for the promotion of information and communication technologies as key instruments for the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs.

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