The United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, undertook a multi-country official mission to Africa to meet with and listen to young people on the ground. The purpose of the mission was to learn first-hand about the issues and challenges young people face and champion investments in youth development.
The mission, which was graciously supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), took the Youth Envoy and her delegation to five countries: Senegal, The Gambia, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa. Her engagements there ranged from high level meetings, and forums, to field visits and town-hall discussions with young people. During her mission, the Youth Envoy had numerous bilateral meetings in all countries at the Ministerial level, all the way up to the level of the President and Vice President, in the Gambia. Ms. Wickramanayake also attended various high-level events, including the Global Partnership for Education Financing Conference in Dakar, Senegal; the II International Forum on Eliminating Female Genital Mutilation, in Banjul, The Gambia; and the 8th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in South Africa. She also met with the UN Country Teams, as well as the donor community in every country and had engagements with local media outlets.
Ms. Wickramanayake also met civil society leadersand other key partners to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities faced by young people in Africa.
During these engagements, the Envoy raised awareness on the importance of investing in youth development to build a more sustainable and peaceful future. The main themes emerging from the mission included: youth investments, employment creation and skills building; sexual and reproductive health and rights; ending harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and child marriage; and promoting young people’s participation in leadership.