The youth in Somalia are positioning themselves to play an active role in the implementation of the country’s National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Sixty-seven young people from the six states in Somalia gathered in Mogadishu On November 4, 2016 and emphasised their rights and responsibilities in being part and parcel of the country’s major development agendas.
The Somali population is young, according to the 2014 Population Estimation Survey. More than half of the population is aged less than 20 years and 75.1 percent is below 30 years old.
Maternal and neonatal nutrition consultant for UNFPA Somalia Masumi Maehara said the major recommendations that came out of the youth gathering included the need by government and development partners to invest in human resources and not only in construction, the need for vocational training to promote sustainable economic development and not only provide skills in different sectors and the promotion of gender equality by both governmental and non-governmental bodies.
“The young people indicated that security is the number one priority for the sustainable development of the country and that the youth should also have a role in promoting the security of the country with the creation of opportunities in establishing community policing so they have alternatives to joining extremist groups,” said Maehara.
The youth also agreed to protect the environment more as a means of realising sustainable development. The Somali young people asked the United Nations to continue being a reliable and trustworthy partner for them and for the creation of stronger partnerships with various stakeholders to enable continuous consultations.
“The young people also noted that each chapter of the NDP needs investment and recommended for micro-financing opportunities for the youth to contribute innovative ideas to their own country’s development,” said Maehara.
The young participants represented youth-led organisations from various regions of the country and included females, males and people living with disabilities.
The Special Representative of the Secretary General in Somalia, Michael Keating, interacted with the participants and discussed the current election processes in Somalia.
Keating stated the importance of having a functional electoral system and national identity cards in the coming few years. “One of the most critical issues that need investment is a one-person-one-vote election in 2020,” said Keating.
The Humanitarian and UN Resident Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clerk, emphasised the importance of young people working as one as opposed to divided groups based on gender, clans and other distinct characteristics that might have brought divisions previously in the country.
The participants, together with the UN officials, engaged in a mural painting to highlight the results of the discussion and their visions for Somalia. The painting will be presented during the inauguration of the new Somali president.
Young staff members from UNFPA also participated in the discussions and advocated for more age-appropriate, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services for young Somalis and the meaningful roles that the youth can play in advocating against gender based violence.