Monday, 14 August 2017

Voices Left Unheard - The Importance of International Youth Day

International Youth Day, Saturday 12th August 2017
 spent with the community in Navrongo

“The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow.” – Nelson Mandela

Youth empowerment is an aspect that is important to focus upon in developing countries as well as developed countries, however it often goes unnoticed. The work of Youth Alive, Ghana, aims to keep as many children in education as long as possible, in an attempt to reduce poverty, early child marriage, and increase the confidence of the youth, offering young people more opportunities. Navrongo, in the Upper East Region of Ghana, is mainly dominated by farmers, meaning that this region tends to be economically disadvantaged compared to other regions of Ghana, such as Accra or Tamale. For this reason, Youth Alive has decided to work in the region as well as the Upper West, to help tackle issues regarding early child marriage, the confidence of youth, and sexual health and reproduction, through delivering sensitisations to the community, increasing their knowledge and awareness of the subjects.
                                                                 Do you have a voice?

Recognising what is important to
 the Youth in Navrongo
The voice of the youth often goes unheard, especially in underdeveloped countries, where early child marriage is prevalent. Worldwide there are over 700 million girls that are married before the age of fifteen, often leading to teenage pregnancy, unsafe abortions and an end to education, resulting to a life of poverty, whereby the youth are silent as they do not have the confidence to speak up to their families, communities and country. It is usually a girl’s family that pushes her into marriage, due to the cultural belief that as soon as a girl reaches puberty, they should be ‘in the kitchen and having babies’. It is important that the Education and Health System work closely together to eradicate early child marriage. There should be an increased knowledge regarding sexual health and the reproduction system, as it is often believed by many young girls that to stop menstrual cramps you should have unprotected sex, or that by having sex for the first time you won’t get pregnant. This limited knowledge means the youth have a higher risk of falling into the trap of poverty. By teaching the youth the facts, they have the knowledge to change their society and cultural beliefs of the elders, and the issue of teenage pregnancy and early child marriage will be reduced.

                                 Can anyone make a change?

Raising awareness across town
with our Instagram cut out. 
Sometimes, I believe people from the UK and westernised countries take many things for granted. For instance, there is a free education system within the UK, giving both males and females the opportunity to attend school, a right and a privilege that is largely unrecognised by the population. Little do the youth know, that this education can lead them to a prosperous future, where both men and women are equals. In many developing countries however, families need to pay for the education of their child, suggesting that an education can lead to a better future, but children from less financially able backgrounds are often illiterate meaning that they will continue to work in manual labour for the foreseeable future. Though this still happens in the world, it does not mean that the youth cannot become successful. Every young person has the power to change the world, create peace, and fight for equality, no matter of their background. After all, Barack Obama became the first African-American President of the United States! It is important that there are idols such as Obama who the youth can aspire to be, or to achieve their future dreams and goals.
                      Do you know what your human rights are?

Some of the team wandering
Navrongo Bus Station. 
To build the confidence of youth, International Service; a Human Rights based charity, have started a partnership with Youth Alive so that the youth know about the difference between their rights and responsibilities. For example, many of the youth in the Upper East Region of Ghana believe that their strength is carrying water, suggesting their lack of understanding of what human rights are. Each and every person has the right to education, their own body, and the freedom of speech. Youth Alive hopes to empower the youth to recognise these important human rights, and the impact that they can have within society, teaching and implementing changes to cultural beliefs for future generations, leading to an equal and fair society.

Celebrating International Youth Day in Navrongo, is exciting for the Youth Alive team, as it means we are able to meet members of the community and listen to what the youth have to say.  What they feel is important, and what they believe peace means. During our time spent in the community on Saturday we met some very inspiring Youth who shared with us their dreams and ambitions, they  were very passionate about the topic and loved our interaction.

A supportive response from many in the town. 

If International Service volunteers, working in partnership with Youth Alive can achieve one thing, it is to empower the youth so that their voices are heard. They will not be afraid to stand up in front of the communities and voice their opinions on what they believe is important, and they will not be afraid to make a change, so the world becomes a more peaceful place. As Nelson Mandela states, “The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow”. 

Author: Louise Dobinson

No comments:

Post a Comment