Ghana on Wednesday marked the International Youth Day with a call on the world not to leave the youth behind in its response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Mrs Samira Bawumia, Wife of the Vice President, who was the Guest Speaker, said it was important that the world empowered the youth in responding to the pandemic since they were a critical and valuable force in development.
The youth could respond to the coronavirus crisis through public health promotion, volunteerism, innovation and creativity, she said.
“Young people can play critical roles in disseminating accurate information on COVID-19. Tackling risk and stigma, policing fake news and supporting information sharing on risk education, national preparedness and response efforts,” Mrs Bawumia said.
Ghana celebrated the Day on the theme: “Youth Engagement in Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19; the Need for youth innovation and creativity,” with the global theme being: “Youth Engagement for Global Action”.
The occasion was graced by dignitaries including Vice President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia, Mr Freddie Blay, NPP National Chairman, and Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare, Chief of Staff.
Mrs Bawumia said young people should find new and innovative ways to communicate with their governments through channels such as radio and social media platforms to access medical and other essential services.
She said they could also help mitigate the impact of the crisis in the long term by promoting social cohesion and countering hate speech, xenophobia, human right violations, and violence.
Mrs Bawumia said society, on the hand, must endeavour to include young people in planning activities towards making the world a better place for all.
She said aside other major COVID-19 relief initiatives that government was rolling out to cushion Ghanaians, it would continue to provide the needed environment to promote peace and prosperity for the generality of Ghanaians.
Mr Isaac Kwame Asiamah, the Minister of Youth and Sports, praised Ghanaian youth for proving to be key actors in finding solutions to global challenges.
He said since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, some young Ghanaian innovators had developed disinfectant chambers to help sanitize one’s whole body at a go.
Others have also helped in the production of face masks and sanitizers and the invention of automated solar hand washing machines.
“More encouraging is the fact that the youth in this pandemic are actively helping their communities as healthcare staff and social workers, finding innovative ways to teach or act as social change activists and taking care of patients and loved ones, among others things.”
“We commend our youth for their high spirit of volunteerism, nationalism and patriotism,” Mr Asiamah said, and expressed government’s commitment to supporting them in all aspects of their development.
He appealed to the youth to refuse to be used to orchestrate violence in the electoral activities as the December polls drew closer and advised them to devote their energies to shaping a better future for themselves and their communities.
Mr Sylvester Matthew Tetteh, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority (NYA), said the youth had been the hardest hit in the COVID-19 crisis particularly in education, hospitality and creative arts.
He said the NYA was poised to tackling the challenges posed by the pandemic and continue with its obligations of promoting youth engagements.
Mr Niyi Ojuolape, UNFPA Country Representative, expressed the commitment of the United Nations and its agencies in investing in the youth including listening to their voices and ensuring their meaningful participation in decision making.
“We will go beyond that by investing in young people participation, organisation and initiatives, thereby, safeguarding their ability to lead in achieving the SDGs…,” he said.
There were solidarity messages from the National Service Secretariat, National Sports Authority, and the Youth Employment Agency, all pledging their support towards youth empowerment.