The International Youth Day (IYD) is observed annually on 12thAugust. It is meant as an opportunity for governments, corporates, private sector and other societal entities to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. During IYD, concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations take place around the world. IYD was designated by the United Nations in 1999 with the adoption of Resolution 54/120. To guide the celebrations, the United Nations developed the Framework Approach highlighting three key objectives for the celebrations which included increased commitment and investment in youth, increased youth participation and partnerships, and increased intercultural understanding among youth.
With the support, will, guidance and endorsement by the Youth Directorate and Nairobi County Government, leaders from different youths based organizations in conservation, social and economic empowerment strongly aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, and the Kenya Vision 2030 Agenda, organized a one week event which was flagged off on 6thAugust 2019 by dignitaries from the Directorate of Youth and Gender in the Kenya to mark the opening of International Youth Week (IYW). The event took place at One Stop Rescue Center along Haile Selassie Avenue in Nairobi. Wezesha initiative, Kenya Inter-university Environmental Students Association (KIUESA and Stand Up Shout Out (SUSO) led other stakeholders in the flag off.
The Kenya organization for environmental education KOEE was represented in the celebrations by Ojuka Vincent, chairperson Kenya Inter-University Environmental students Association (KIUESA), who is interning at the organization and is championing for youth’s spaces and leadership in environmental conservation. This was also to strengthen KIUESA’s collaboration with UNESCO Chair on Green Economy-Kenyatta University that is partnering with KOEE to implement Higher Education Development for a Green Economy and Sustainability (HEDGES) project.
During the day, different youth led organizations were driving their interrelated objectives to mark the week. The workshop objectives included;
- To discuss and reaffirm the role of youths in promoting social and economic empowerment within the youth spaces and initiatives.
- To show solidarity of the young generation in driving the global development agendas with the sustainable development goals with emphasize on climate change awareness creation and the green economy agenda.
- To share and exchange ideas and experiences of the different youths within the county with diverse areas of specialization like youths empowerment.
- Key note addresses and presentations
This was the first activity of the day that saw different partners present and share with the participants on their engagement in the youth spaces as well as highlighting the milestones they have achieved while working with the youths. Some of the presenters were from KIUESA, WEZESHA INITIATIVE, SUSO and the Youth Directorate. The directorate outlined some of the strategies that the government had put in place to empower the youths and address the unemployment issues through projects like Kenya Youth Employment Opportunity Program and the Youth Revolving Funds. As key note speakers, they urged the youth to be aggressive and to keep doing great in their initiatives as it counts and matters a lot to the government and global community and assured support of the youth led projects.
- Tree planting
To commit to the objective of fighting climate change and promoting green growth, KIUESA led the participants in tree planting activity where about 100 trees were planted. The association challenged participants on promoting sustainability issues including a call to ensure that the trees planted on the day were well taken care of till maturity. It was agreed that the school where the trees were planted was to monitor the progress of the trees and continuous visits by the association to the school will be going on to ensure that the planted trees are counting to the forest cover in the country.
During the day, different organizations were able to exhibit some of the products they make for their income generation. Some of them included the art works, customized beads, tree seeds and seedlings, bookmarks-shirts among other products.
- Youth bonding and team building
Most of the participants of the day were youths who were lively and engaged in team building and bonding sessions. This was by involvement of the fun games, music and eco-challenges among others. It was meant to expose the participants on the need to partner and work together for a common course irrespective of their backgrounds as illustrated in the SDG 17.
- Flag off
To mark the day, the Directorate of Youth in the end joined all participants in the flagging off the week by launching an awareness creation caravan of the youths who had a peaceful match within the streets to publicize the week and to sensitize on the different youths agendas to be covered during the celebrations.
IYD/IYW is a major global event that allows people to reflect on the ways and means of engaging the youths who form a better part of the world’s population. It is encouraging to see many youth initiatives supported and endorsed by different government agencies, international programs and entities like UN and UNESCO, civil societies, corporates world among others. A lot more can be done with regards to youths empowerment for relevant skill and knowledge in different fields while targeting to achieve the UN sustainable development goals.