Islands Business: Young people, particularly children, young women and people living with disabilities, have traditionally been marginalised in development processes and hurt by systemic and structural discrimination and inaction.
This, according to Rebecca Solomon, needs to change.
Solomon, a young woman from Vanuatu, is an active member of the Vanuatu National Youth Council, the Pacific Youth Council and also the Commonwealth Youth Council.
On December 7, 2013 she, along with her youthful colleagues, addressed Pacific ministers responsible for youth at a meeting convened at the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.
She said it is time for a change so that we can “turn our scars into stars”.
She urged Pacific governments to endorse the Pacific Youth Development Framework, which aims to engage youth and work towards securing higher standards of education and training for them, as well as increased employment opportunities, improved health and well-being and environmental stewardship.
“My peers and I need to see more of these types of collaboration and coalition for continuous growth and development so that we can be positive citizens,” said Solomon.
Delegates to the ministerial meeting in December responded positively and endorsed the new 10-year Pacific Youth Development Framework that will begin implementation in January this year.
The framework reflects the consensus and inputs of young people, youth specialists, government officials and development agencies in the Pacific.
“The new Pacific Youth Development Framework is different from its predecessor, the Pacific Youth Strategy,” says Mereia Carling, SPC’s Youth Adviser.
“Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, it is informed and prioritised by youth. The participation of young people in the development of the framework, including the most marginalised of young people, has been central and will be the key to its success.
“Secondly, there are just four focus areas which young people recognise as having the biggest potential impact in improving their situation—the previous youth strategy had seven thematic components.
“Focusing on these four areas, the new framework is designed to work deeper, as opposed to broader.
“And thirdly, the framework has been reoriented so that the focus is on strengthening the impact at the country level, rather than on investing in cumbersome and resource-heavy regional mechanisms.”
The expressed intent is to integrate change in current development programmes rather than encourage a proliferation of stand-alone youth programmes.
In other words, the aim is work deeper by dovetailing a focus on youth into existing development objectives that are already resourced and where expertise is already present.
The framework’s flexibility in responding to national policy objectives and priorities for youth, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all approach, appealed to the government ministers and officials who attended the meeting.
SPC has been appointed to provide regional coordination for the mechanism and Carling says the intention is to keep it lightweight and nimble, without compromising on efficiency or effectiveness.
The commitment made by ministers and development partners to provide resources and support the implementation of the framework is very encouraging, she says.
There are many challenges in trying to achieve results and development outcomes from investing in and implementing regional development frameworks and strategies.
The 2011 review of the 2005?2010 Pacific Youth Strategy highlighted several challenges, as it revealed that governments, youth stakeholders and young people themselves had not engaged as much as was hoped with the youth strategy, and there were few results to be seen.
With a new approach, the framework is designed to involve more young people in policy and agenda setting.
This is desirable, given the burgeoning youth population statistics across the region and the clear need to cater for more people in terms of infrastructure, health, education and employment services.
The process will emphasise engaging traditionally marginalised groups and minorities in society, including young girls and women; young people with disabilities; young people living in rural areas; young people who are not in education, training or employment; and young people of diverse sexuality and gender orientation.
As implementation begins in 2014, technical agencies, including the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and youth organisations, will move towards formalising their commitment and costing partnerships to coordinate and deliver technical assistance to Pacific countries and territories, in order to maximise the potential of all citizens and their contributions to Pacific Islands development.
Source: Islands Business