Cynthia Nyongesa is the founder of http://cynthiauntamed.com a blog that highlights the stories of young Africans using life and leadership skills to positively impact their communities. She also interviews game changers and influencers in various fields as a way of mentoring the youth. Cynthia is a UNICEF Generation 2030 ambassador which gives her the platform to utilize the concept of the generation 2030 report to empower children and youth.
Today being the #WorldChildrensDay I caught up with her to tell us what UNICEF’s Generation 2030 is and what it seeks to achieve. This is after attending a workshop on the same in Johanesburg South Africa late last moth. Here is what she has for you.
Many times, policy makers all over the world come up with concept papers, reports and documents that talk about young people. However, they rarely involve the youth who are affected by their decisions in the drafting of laws and global policies. Therefore, many youth just hear from the news or see social media trends about meetings and conferences that are for the youth with well, no youth in the room? This is a major problem that we as young people have no choice but fight against.
However, UNICEF Africa did tremendously well by changing this trend. In 2014, the Generation 2030 report on the future of African children was released. At that time, young people and children did not have the chance to voice their concerns on the report or at least contribute to it. However, in 2017, UNICEF Africa updated the same report and this time, they wanted to hear from African youth and children. Therefore, young people who were carefully selected from Sub-Saharan Africa were chosen to gather at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa where we had a youth workshop on 25th October 2017.
The workshop involved many discussions from children and youth between the age of 13 and 24. The countries represented were Kenya, Mozambique, Mali, Cote d’ivoire, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Nigeria and South Africa. There was a passionate plea as we held our discussions which involved a round table dialogue with the guidance of UNICEF officials and our hosts at the South African Institute of International Affairs based at the University.
What came out from the youth is that, no right or need is bigger than the other for any African child or youth. Education and Peace are as important as Health and Business and Employment opportunities. The workshop begun with a simplified explanation of what a demographic dividend means from David Antony, the author of the report. This basically means a situation where Africa has more empowered people as compared to those who aren’t. The aim is to have a bigger working and healthy generation.
We processed where Africa is standing at the moment. There is a growth in Africa’ s child population and by 2050, our continent will have the highest number of children in the world. Question is, what will be the situation in 2030? Will our youth and children be well empowered to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend?
What also arose was the question of how can individual personally invest in their potential? How can you as an individual start participating in decision making processes now and in the future? It is clear that education plays a very big role and we all agreed that we shouldn’t just focus on formal education but also on informal and vocational training as a way of nurturing our creativity and skills.
The role of partnerships which is the general call for action from the report is for the private sector and governments to work together with the involvement of youth in improving lives. Is peace the absence of war? Many countries are torn by civil war and this makes it difficult and basically impossible for any country to achieve its potential. However, how can we focus on inner peace and especially in the homes where we get rid of domestic violence?
It was also clear that many people and especially children and youth with disabilities are often forgotten yet if they are given proper rehabilitation and special schools and health care, then they might just be able to live normal lives.Individual countries cannot act alone and it is important for bigger and wealthier countries to step in and assist so that we move at a relatively similar and faster pace.
On 26th of October, we gathered at the POP Art Theatre in Johannesburg to launch the improved version of the report dubbed Generation 2030 2.0 report on the future of African children. This is when we released our youth statement that focussed on peace and security, education, health, economic growth and climate change. We spoke with passion, we wanted world leaders to hear that we are the future and we are worthy of investment. We want a seat at the table.
As we concluded, we knew that we are even more empowered due to our accessibility and interaction with the report so our main focus was now how to use the information that we had. How can we now continue being involved in our respective countries in empowering the youth and children? We agreed to use the concept of: Who are we? What have we done? What do we want?
I decided to continue using my blog, http://cynthiauntamed.com as a platform that not only writes the stories of young people positively impacting their communities, but also as an educative platform about various youth issues and opportunities, starting off with the concept of Generation 2030. I want my country Kenya and Africa to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend. I want to see hope, I want to see potential being utilized.
Find the full report and executive summary here: https://uni.cf/Generation2030