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Sierra Leone
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

President Koroma urged that female youth be given priority

By Winifred H. Kargbo

President Ernest Bai Koroma yesterday said female youths should be included in all development initiatives in the country, including the Youth Development blueprint that was officially launched by the president.

President Koroma was speaking at the launching ceremony of the National Youth Development Programme for 2014-2018 at Miata Conference Hall in Freetown.

The launch was organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to herald a five-year policy framework to address issues affecting the youth population in the country.

President Koroma said he made a promise during the state opening of Parliament that he would dedicate his second term to the country’s 1.7 million youth, representing 75% of its population, that he would go the extra mile to fulfill his promise, hence the launch of the programme was a key step by the Ministry of Youth to address the challenges of youth across the country.

However, he said female youth should be accorded equal opportunities as their male counterparts to benefit from the development blueprint.

“Female youths should be on-board any youth activities in the country because that will give them the chance to actively participate in national development,” he said.

To support the female youth population, he said, he devised an initiative for females, including the free healthcare initiative and the free scholarship for female science students in public universities.

United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, Country Director, Sudipto Mukerjee, said the launch of the National Youth Programme signifies another stride in positioning youth in their rightful place for the development of the nation.

Mr. Mukerjee said youth development is a priority in the ‘Agenda for Prosperity’ and that issues affecting young people would remain at the apex of the agenda of the United Nations.

He added that the UN Secretary General was quick to have realised the need for youth involvement at the highest level of policy formulation and as a result appointed a Special Youth Envoy in January 2013, and also mandated the UN Inter- Agency Network on youth Development to develop a UN System Wide Action Plan on Youths.

 He said the UN has formed a new youth strategy with a view to strengthening sustainable development through increased economic empowerment of youth, and to enhance youth’s civic engagement and participation in politics and public institutions, as well as to strengthen youth engagement in disaster preparedness and crisis response.

He maintained that all international development actors, with UN agencies included, are sharpening their focus on youth.

 “We at the UNDP are extremely pleased to be associated with development of this innovative medium term programme and we strongly believe in helping to develop the consensus, organisation and influence to effectively enhance youth employment and empowerment opportunities in the country,’’ he said.

He said the programme is aimed at promoting and enabling active citizenship among the young people of Sierra Leone, which will enable them effectively assume the responsibility to participate in national life and nation building.

He said the current situation of youth in the country is more than satisfactory as close to 80% live below the poverty line of less than US$2; 60% are structurally unemployed compared to 13.1% global average; half are illiterate; adding that significant skills gaps and resultant inadequate supply of local labour, inadequate entrepreneurial skills, resources and capacities, and limited access to land for youth, especially young women, compound the challenges youth face.

Thus, he said the three top programmes results aimed at are: the creation of 1 million new decent jobs; 2 million more young people enabled with means of effective participation in national life; and 300,000 more youth in secondary and higher education.

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