The 1.5 billion people under the age of 30 living in the 56-nation Commonwealth are set to hit the limelight this year as they celebrate Year of Youth 2023.
During last year’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kigali in Rwanda, the leaders called for 2023 to be focused on empowering young people to unleash their potential.
Commonwealth governments and other stakeholders were urged to speed up progress on youth-focused matters.
The year was kicked off in London on Monday evening when the Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, launched the programme, which will see a wide-range of youth-related activities in every member country throughout 2023.
I am excited that the next 12 months will bring Commonwealth leaders, stakeholders and
citizens together to celebrate and empower our 1.5 billion young people, the Secretary General said at the launch at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Young people are at the heart of the Commonwealth Charter.
Despite the many challenges they face, young people give so much towards every aspect of the social, economic, political and cultural life of our 56 member countries.
The Commonwealth’s future success rests with them.
So here today we commit to investing in and promoting their development and engagement at community, regional, national and pan-Commonwealth levels throughout this year and beyond,” the Secretary General added.
Youth representatives at the ceremony were excited by this “new year of action for young people of the Commonwealth”.
Speaking at the launch, Uganda’s Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Sarah Mateke Nyirabashitsi, said the Year of Youth 2023 was a collective statement about the wellbeing of the young people of the Commonwealth.
She said that as the Commonwealth planned for its youth, “we must realise that this is the most fragile group in society and any mistake could backfire on us”.
Rwanda’s Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi, in a message read by an official of the Rwanda High Commission in London, urged all those involved in the year-long celebrations to make 2023 “a milestone in the history of the Commonwealth”.
The urgency of empowering the Commonwealth’s youth was stressed by various speakers who pointed out that these young people were not just the leaders of the future, but of the present.
They form 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s 2.5 billion population.
Thus, issues such as climate change, access to education, skills, employment, and political, social and economic participation, will take centre-stage throughout 2023.
The young people will also feature in a variety of high-profile events aimed at spotlighting the issues facing their wellbeing and prosperity.
These include the Commonwealth Youth and Students Summit for the African Region to be held in Nigeria in May; Commonwealth Youth Games in Trinidad and Tobago in August; the Commonwealth Global Youth Work Conference; and the Commonwealth Youth Awards.
The Commonwealth Year of the Youth is taking place during the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme in August.
Over the years, the CYP has supported the education and personal development of millions of young people and giving thousands more the opportunity to sit beside world leaders and advocate for their peers.