International Youth Day is observed annually on August 12th. It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. During IYD, concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations take place around the world. IYD was designated by the United Nations in 1999 with the adoption of Resolution 54/120.
The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The first IYD was observed on12th August 2000.
Theme for IYD2022
“Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” is the theme for International Youth Day 2022. In Ghana, the National Youth Authority used this day to gather youth across the country for the 1st Annual National Youth Conference and launch of National Youth Policy at Akwapim-Mampong in the Eastern region. The African Union Commission virtually launched the AU Malaria Conversation Guide for Youth in Africa to mark IYD2022.
Discrimination Situation in Ghana
Discrimination in Ghana refers to all forms and manifestations of actions that deny social participation or human rights to certain categories of people in Ghanaian society or institutions.
Though not always the case, discrimination in Ghana is often based on preconceived, usually unfavorable, judgments toward people or a person because of their religion, tribe, language or personal characteristics including but not limited to gender, political opinion, social class, age, and disability.
i. Discrimination and Disability
Discrimination in Ghana is widespread against the disabled. Few educational institutions accept disabled students or make provision for such students including those with mild cases, for example students who cannot climb stairs. Government building and worship centers are mostly built also lacking that same capability. Adults with mental illness may be put in prayer camps. In some communities infants who show signs of deformity are put to death for fear of infecting everyone else in their family with a perceived bad luck.
ii. Discrimination and Gender
The status of females (girls/women) in Ghana and their roles in Ghanaian society has changed over the past few decades. There has been a slow increase in the political participation of Ghanaian female throughout history. Females are given equal rights under the Constitution of Ghana, yet disparities in education, employment, and health for women remain prevalent. Additionally, females have much less access to resources than males in Ghana do. Ghanaian females in rural and urban areas face slightly different challenges. Throughout Ghana, female-headed households are increasing. Multiple forms of violence against girls and women still exist in Ghana. In recent years, feminist organizations and women’s right groups have increased. Efforts to bring about gender equality continue to grow in Ghana. The government of Ghana has signed on to numerous international goals and conventions to enhance women’s rights in Ghana. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) named the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as the AU Gender Champion for 2017.
As a Ghanaian female youth, I think we should ask ourselves the following questions as a country if we really want no one to be left behind:
1) How inclusive is a youthfully populated country like Ghana when the average age of political leaders in our country is way above 38 years?
2) How inclusive are we when all our political party manifestoes address very few issues on gender, youth, religious, and disability discrimination?
3) How inclusive are we when the unemployed youth are provided with unsustainable employment initiatives?
The Way Forward
– The government should enact laws that protect the rights on minority groups and equip law enforcement agencies to make sure perpetrators of gender-based violence and all other discriminations are brought to book.
– Political parties should include in their manifestoes issues on gender, youth, and disability empowerment, and implement them to the core once they are voted into power.
– The youth, girls and women should continuously build their capacities to remain relevant and attractive to the fact changing environment like Ghana.
Article written by: Ms. Shakira Mohammed, a member of Girls Advocacy Network-Ghana.
Girls Advocacy Network – Ghana is a group of girls and young women with over 1,200 members from across 6 regions of Ghana who serve as advocates in society and attempt to mobilize resources to carry out self-initiated activities which aim to empower girls and women. The group has about 250 members in Northern region and have very strong working relationships with government structures, local and international NGOs across the country.