The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) this week joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Youth Day, a day set aside to encourage the creation of spaces that can afford youths genuine and effective opportunities for broad-based participation in regional development issues.
The International Youth Day was celebrated on August 12 under theme “safe spaces for youth”, which draws attention to the need for appropriate platforms to be in place for youths to engage and make positive contributions in all spheres of life.
In a statement , SADC executive secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax said youths participation was critical in the development of the region.
“As we celebrate International Youth Day, may I request SADC member states and all stakeholders to deliberately mainstream interests of youth and ensure youth participation in socio-economic development processes. It is only through the deeper involvement of our youth that our region’s lofty aspirations can be realised,” Dr Tax said.
Dr Tax said the 35th Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government held on August 18 2015 adopted the SADC Declaration on Youth Empowerment and Development as a high-level commitment to address youth issues with renewed determination.
She said the declaration recognises that children and youth are the greatest resource available to address many challenges facing SADC and that investing in their development will empower them to be responsible and productive citizens.
SADC Heads of State and Government also affirmed that promoting youth participation in the socio-economic and political agenda at regional and national levels would ensure their ownership and commitment to sustain development gains, with a sense of responsibility, patriotism and unity.
Dr Tax said strategies were underway to ensure youth empowerment in the region.
“In order to bring effect to the declaration, SADC is implementing the Strategy and Business Plan on Youth Empowerment and Participation for Sustainable Development (2015-2020), which emphasises the implementation of development-oriented interventions related to employment creation, socio-economic and political governance,” she said.
Zimbabwe has taken steps to empower women and youths who are considered as the vulnerable groups in society.
In a bid to ensure the youth and women contribute towards the country’s development, the government recently launched the Youth Empowerment Bank and the Zimbabwe Women Microfinance Bank.
The banks will enable women and youths to access funding at concessionary rates.
The women’s bank is the first of its kind in SADC.