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In a discussion that the UN Country Team held today with the UN Youth Envoy, Jayathma Wickramanayake, it was disclosed that the UN Results Group on the Youth is contributing to youth engagement through support on capacity building, networking and enhancing participation. Sarah Masale, Deputy Representative of UNFPA – the Agency Chairing the UN Results Group on the Youth – said in her presentation that UN Agencies are implementing joint or agency specific programmes through rights-based approaches to engage and empower the youth. She went on to indicate that even though all the 5 pillars of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in some way take into account the interest of the youth, the UN in Ethiopia has ensured that 2 of the pillars directly address the needs of young people in an holistic manner.

Representatives of the Youth Advisory Board – the entity that was set up two year back to create a platform for youth participation in UN youth initiatives – who were present at the meeting expressed their interest to collaborate with UN agencies and the UN Results Group on the Youth in particular to make UN’s programmes and approaches youth friendly in Ethiopia. Moreover, they indicated to the Youth envoy the need for the UN to be a pioneer in terms of considering volunteering experience of young people for a work experience so that the youth prioritize and value volunteerism, which is a pillar of any development and humanitarian interventions.

Giving highlights of the UN Youth Strategy, the UN Youth Envoy, Ms. Wickramanayake, appreciated the works of the UN Results Group on the Youth and the youth advisory board and dwelled on the need to give focus on the most marginalized, hard to reach young people along with engaging those youth who have the exposure and access to information. She went on to make a recommendation on the need for commencing youth marker taking the experience of gender programmes in the effort at ensuring that the youth are represented and are playing key role on youth development issues.

The Youth Envoy came to Ethiopia to take part in the Pan-African Youth Forum that was held in Addis Ababa between 25 and 27 April under the theme “Reaching One Million Youth by 2021” – an initiative of the African Union Commission aiming to meaningfully reach at least one million African young people by the year 2021 with opportunities and essential interventions. The initiative seeks to catalyse and accelerate the implementation of the AU roadmap on harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth, with emphasis on youth civic participation, and youth engagement.