Blog: Click, share and create to accelerate youth development and empowermentApril 28th, 2023
As we approach major events such as the Commonwealth Youth and Students’ Summit, the Commonwealth Youth Games and the Commonwealth Youth Awards, the critical importance of our Year of Youth comes into sharp focus.
Blog by Christabel Derby, Co-Chair of the Commonwealth Year of Youth Advisory Committee
At its core is the staunch belief that young people are our power source. Across our 56 countries is the recognition that we need youthful perspectives and innovations to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals, which include saving our planet, tackling poverty, and empowering marginalised groups.
It’s a big task and a big ask for governments that have had pandemics, floods, storms, and conflicts thrown in their path. But when they met at their Covid-delayed summit in Rwanda last year, they all agreed that these goals could only be made possible by investing in young people, addressing their concerns, supporting their empowerment and including them in decision-making. And the Commonwealth Year of Youth was born.
To manage its design and implementation, the Commonwealth assembled a strong intergenerational Advisory Committee, which I chair alongside International Youth Development Specialist and Strategy Advisor Dr Henry Charles, as well as a youth-led communications task force.
The Committee and task force include Commonwealth Youth Council members, disability and women’s empowerment global advocates, youth work ambassadors and senior government officials.
Since officially launching the Year in January, the Committee has been working with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other partners to gear up young leaders to help us attain our goals.
Last month I joined dozens of other young people in London for a capacity-building and strategy-planning session. Since then, we have been working with a network of ministries and organisations to drive Year of Youth activities and programmes. These include competitions, scholarships and opportunities to attend and contribute to global development discussions. But we need your help to spread the word and amplify our call for accelerated youth empowerment and development.
In a passionate call to action, my Co-chair, Dr Charles, has aptly summed up the critical importance of this year. He said:
“The decision by Commonwealth Heads of Government to declare 2023 as the Commonwealth Year of the Youth is historic and provides youth development stakeholders with another opportunity to accentuate the demographic significance of youth, recognise young people as leaders and strategic development partners, actualise the concept of young people as champions of peaceful coexistence and co-creators of sustainable futures in the Commonwealth, and finally to facilitate the mainstreaming of youth development priorities across all development sectors.
“In this regard, I make a special appeal to all development partners across the Commonwealth, including member governments, national youth councils, commonwealth youth networks, multilateral organisations, development banks, and grassroots organisations to join in solidarity with the Year of the Youth Advisory Committee and the 1.5 billion young people in the Commonwealth to commemorate CYY 2023.”
The overarching message is that this is a year of action and revolution. We aim to create a loud collective voice that echoes across the globe, inspiring action from ministries, policymakers, organisations and businesses and from young people everywhere – including the most remote villages.
Specifically, the call to action for my fellow youth is to recognise our power, channel our energy and innovation, relentlessly pursue opportunities, and demand a place at the table with decision-makers. And to ministers, leaders, heads of organisation and the businesses and conglomerates who have the means to finance and upskill young people, we ask for your total commitment to our empowerment and advancement.
To ensure you have all the tools to participate in this historic year, we have created a Year of Youth 2023 website and a complete communications engagement toolkit, which not only tells you more about the year but has specific ways you can get involved on social media and in your local community.
Access our communications toolkit and join the charge for accelerated youth development and empowerment.
Christabel Derby is a lawyer and the CEO of the Derby’s Foundation Ghana – focusing on development, education, health and infrastructure. She is currently the Vice Chairperson of Inclusion and Engagement for the Commonwealth Youth Council.