- One of the major activities to mark the 2021 International Youth Day in Nigeria was organised by YouthHubAfrica in Abuja
- The initiative known as the Determined, Aspire, Re-Imagine and Express (DARE) Conference 2021 was held at the International Conference Centre
- Organisers say the conference seeks to foster collaboration between African youths, government, and civil society organisations to work together realising the SDGs
FCT, Abuja - The Determined, Aspire, Re-Imagine and Express (DARE) Conference 2021, a pan-African conference organised by YouthHubAfrica, commenced on Friday, August 13 as part of activities to mark the International Youth Day.
Discussions on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Education, Early marriages and Culture with regards to women and girls in the society dominated the conference on the first day attended by a Legit.ng reporter.
Organisers say this year’s DARE Conference, with the theme, ‘Expanding Margins,’ is geared towards ending SGBV against women and girls in Nigeria and Africa at large.
The executive director of YouthHubAfrica, Mr. Rotimi Olawale, who was the moderator at one of the panel sessions, said the purpose of the conference is to bring young people together to interact, learn and also listen to the current trends around the issues that are being discussed.
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He said data analysed by his team, indicated that during the COVID-19 lockdown, the percentage of intimate partner violence increased.
“This forum will deal with how young people can respond to such things, especially if you are facing sexual violence, harassment at the workplace, colleges.
“We just celebrated International Youth Day and so it behooves on the youth to take on the challenge and focus on how to contribute to a better Nigeria. There is no perfect nation in the world, every nation has its own challenges and this gives the youth opportunity to participate in making things better.”
The national programme coordinator for Spotlight Initiative, Ms. Hadiza Aminu Dorayi, who was also one of the panelists, said that one of the reasons for the conference is that it would help to educate the youths, including parents, community leaders on important developmental issues.
“In this conference we hope to address issues that have to do with sexual and gender-based violence, reproductive health of women and girls, how we can encourage men and boys to be champions in supporting women, and to nullify negative social norms that are prevalent in our society.”
Ms. Ulla Elisabeth Mueller, the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) country representative, another panelist, said there are a handful of success stories but the major challenges governing child marriage are negative cultural norms!
“We need to have conversations with traditional, religious leaders, and parents and most importantly, not forget to communicate the economic impact of such acts and how society is losing huge potential when girls are married out early.
“We also need to understand that young girls who are forced into marriages are exposed to complications such as fistula. It is also a gross violation of their human rights.”
On the issue of Education, Toyosi Akerele- Ogunsiji, a social entrepreneur and human development expert, one of the speakers in another panel discussion, said that if we don’t empower teachers and vocational education in Nigeria, we are not ready for change.
“Lack of creativity on the part of our policymakers is a big problem, we will not stop building bigger prisons until we begin to prioritise education in Nigeria. What you prioritise is what gains value.
“Hence, I will look forward to a country where policymakers are mandated to enroll their children in Nigerian schools because Nigeria’s fortune will never advance as long as we keep running a certificate economy, where people who have certificates are seen to be superior to others.
“We have a system that teaches people to memorise and not to perform. Also, Mathematics must become a subject that we prioritise in Nigeria because it is the foundation for quantitative reasoning and the best way to groom problem-solving techniques.”
In a related development, youth activists have called for increased involvement for youth across several sectors to ensure actual national development.
These calls were made as Oxfam in Nigeria’s Work in Progress (WIP!) alliance formally launched phase two of the #BeingYounginNaija campaign to commemorate the 2021 International Youth Day at a virtual town hall event held on Thursday, August 12, and monitored by Legit.ng.
The event, titled "How many youth are left?" was held to explore challenges facing young people in Nigeria and how to tackle them.
Meanwhile, Yiaga Africa, on Thursday, July 15 hosted key stakeholders and youth groups ahead of the National Assembly public hearing on the Youth Development Commission Bill.
The policy dialogue, think tank meeting attended by a Legit.ng reporter in Abuja was aimed at bringing all stakeholders under one roof to analyse and review the bill.
Speaking at the event, the chairman of the Young Parliamentarians Forum, Honourable Kabir Ibrahim Tukura urged all participants to contribute their quota to ensure that the Youth Development Commission Bill is a near-perfect document.