COVID -19 pandemic has brought so much pain and grief into our world. It is almost impossible to find a soul which has not been affected in one way or another. To put this into a proper perspective, young people are a group that has been worst hit. The pandemic has also crushed the economy. Jobs have been lost. Businesses have closed. Online education systems have been a better option. Despite the turmoil which the pandemic has caused, there is a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. We now have vaccines that have proved to be effective to a certain degree. Despite various efforts to contain COVID-19 pandemic at global level using the currently available vaccines, some people are scared to go for the jab.
As you are aware from a tender age people have gotten vaccinated for chicken pox, measles, polio and mumps to mention but a few and this is for protection. Be reminded that half a loaf is better than none and a second line of defense could take you to the next stage of your life. I would like to urge all young people and everyone to get the vaccine for your own good and for the love of others around you. Let us remember that we only have one life and we should guard it jealously. So protect yourself and your neighbor by getting immunized against COVID-19.
On the 12th of August is International Youth Day (IYD). This year the day will be commemorated under the theme “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”. The theme emphasizes on the fact that to achieve such a global effort there is need for Meaningful Youth Participation (MYP). One key question as we approach the day is how do the youth participate towards attaining this goal? In foresight, global partners must play an essential role in ensuring that young people are given adequate support so as to attain a resilient generation that should ably restore our ecosystem and promote biodiversity.
Well, Malawi is hosting the SADC Heads of Government Summit this month. We have always wondered what these summits mean to the youth, women and children in Malawi and Southern Africa as a region. During the same period and prior to the period, there will be several forums taking place. There is an indication of the SADC Peoples Forum and the 3rd SADC Youth Forum (interesting that last year we had a virtual 40th SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government from 10 – 17th August, 2020 and having the 3rd SADC Youth Forum in 2021). Does this mean that there no youth to be engage in the youth forums as a way of preparing the young people into leadership processes? It is therefore important that we begin to rethink leadership. We need to focus on how we are preparing the young people to be active citizens in the social and economic development of the countries in the region and world over.
The 59th Commission on Social Development received a report from Secretary general which noted that young people aged 15 – 24 account for 20% of the global population in extreme poverty and sadly more than 75% of extreme youth poverty is in the Sub Saharan Africa where SADC belongs. More interesting is the fact that youth poverty stems from lack of access to decent jobs, noting also that monetary poverty and unemployment represent dimension of poverty. However, the report also notes that young people experience several deprivations making them trapped in poverty for life with social expulsion as a major outcomes of the youth poverty.
As the SADC meets this month, we believe the inclusion of the young people in the system is of paramount important and therefore the need to mobilise young people to engage at different levels with the SADC team before the summit convenes. This is also critical for us as Malawi considering that our head of state, His Excellency, Dr. Lazarus Chakwera over the summit fresh from the global education meeting in United Kingdom and would be good how the London summit will contribute to the local and regional standards for youth development. How will we ensure that there is leadership transitions at various levels.
This brings us to the issue of how the older generation is mentoring the young, a question on this is, are we shaping leaders or followers? The youth need to be taught to understand the importance of value-based leadership, leadership which is based on principles. In addition to this the youth need to understand the importance of sticking to values, being focused and visionary.
Continue working incredibly hard, dream big and be strong as you fight your way to success. The difficulties you face are nothing compared to the joy of success.