Feature Story

Youths in Tanzania gathered in Dodoma for Peace

12 August 2017

The United Nations Tanzania in collaboration with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and other stakeholders joined the international community in commemorating the International Youth Day on 12 August 2017 at the Capital city of Tanzania Dodoma (Nyerere square ground) led by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Tanzania.

Each year on 12 August the UN, stakeholders and governments observe International Youth Day by employing creative means to raise awareness on issues of young people. This year the International Youth Day 2017 is about achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace.

The United Nations Tanzania, through UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, celebrates International Youth Day by reaffirming and recognizing the central role of young people in promoting the well-being of their families, communities and nations. This year’s theme, “Youth Building Peace,” it’s more relevant and timely.

To empower young people means giving them the tools to become even more influential, productive actors in their societies. In order to achieve this, countries need to end all forms of discrimination faced by young people.  Central to these efforts must be the promotion of access to education, health services, including sexual and reproductive health and family planning. These combined interventions are critical in order to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, strengthen the resilience of populations in the face of all challenges and seize the opportunities of the new economy.

“Young people have the potential to act as greater forces for positive social change and to build the foundation for a just and peaceful world. Today’s generation of youth has come of age in an era of crisis, conflict and disaster. Yet, it has largely been excluded from national and global efforts to prevent and resolve conflicts.” According to Dr. Hashina Begum,UNFPA Tanzania Representative a.i & Deputy Representative.

Since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2250 in 2015, there is growing recognition that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.

“No peaceable nation has ever been developed and no nation on earth has ever been peaceful without any peace. Peace and Development go together. Some countries have been in conflict and have led to a breakdown of peace due to the absence of optimal patriotism and the lack of unity among the citizens. Any conflicting country, which has no solidarity and nationality,development can not be achieved”. According to Hon. Jenista Mhagama Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled

Another Security Council Resolution, Resolution 2282 (2016) recognizes that the scale and challenges of sustaining peace requires partnerships between stakeholders, including youth organizations. It also reaffirms the important role youth can play in deterring and resolving conflicts, and are key constituents in ensuring the success of both peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.

The year 2015, the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which committed to fostering peaceful and inclusive societies and affirmed that “sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security”. Goal 16 aims to ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels. The World Programme of Action for Youth, which provides a policy framework and practical guidelines to improve the situation of young people, also encourages “promoting the active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security”.

Young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly, is key to building and sustaining peace. The process of social inclusion for youth, including participation in decision-making as well as access to quality education, health care and basic services promotes their role as active contributors to society and affords young people with opportunities to reach their potential and achieve their goals. When youth are excluded from political, economic and social spheres and processes, it can be a risk factor for violence and violent forms of conflict. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a precondition for sustaining peace.

To achieve these goals, a fundamental shift is needed. We must make decisions on the allocation of resources while keeping the interests of future generations in mind. We must make investments in social sectors that improve the resilience of individuals and communities. And we must place the fulfilment of human rights at the centre of development. 

“Building peaceful, cohesive and resilient societies requires the full and meaningful participation of young people. Investing in them in ways that build their capabilities and creating opportunities that will enable them to realize their full potential in life are a prerequisite for their engagement in civic affairs. If we want a more peaceful world, we can no longer afford to leave young people behind. We must listen to and work with them”. According to Dr. Hashina Begum,UNFPA Tanzania Representative a.i & Deputy Representative.

“To have a nation with strong and healthy young people, the government will continue with efforts to ensure that health care services are improved, including access to reproductive health care services for young people to address the challenges of early pregnancy and viral infections. HIV and AIDS for teenagers. Life skills education will continue to be provided to empower young people to develop self-awareness and to build up boldness so that they can overcome the risks that lead to those challenges. We also continue to encourage young people to avoid drug abuse that significantly affect the National Labor Force and the actions of peaceful disasters”.  According to Hon. Jenista Mhagama Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled

From the 2017 UNAIDS Global AIDS Update, Tanzania is on track to achieve  the 90-90-90 treatment targets by 2020 and end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Tanzania's 2016 HIV estimates also show that young people between the age of 15 to 24 years account for 40 % of new HIV infections of whom 70% are young women.

To achieve its social and economic transformation, there is an urgent to put young people at the forefront. Addressing the specific challenges faced by young people in the AIDS response through a multi stakeholder’s engagement is cornerstone as it will provide opportunity to become healthy, secure and productive adults. " facilitating access to youth-friendly HIV and reproductive and sexual health related information and services and  investing in capabilities  and leadership of youth to engage in public policy are needed to prevent HIV among youth and ensure young people living with HIV access quality treatment and care". According to UNAIDS Country Director and Representative for Tanzania Dr Leo ZEKENG.

Globally, large youth populations represent a historic opportunity to introduce progress and adopt innovative solutions to ignite this change. Essential to this is the realization of young people’s rights to participate in the political, economic and social life of their communities and countries, and to freely make informed choices regarding their bodies, sexuality and reproduction without discrimination, violence or coercion.

UNFPA is proud to partner with young people in more than 150 countries and territories around the world to promote their participation and leadership, enabling them to overcome barriers, spearhead innovations and unleash their full potential.

United Nations Tanzania calls on governments, development partners and other influencers to enact policies that promote young people’s development, and to measure progress across the Sustainable Development Goals that relate to adolescents and youth. Young people must be engaged as partners in achieving these goals, as they are the generation that will inherit our planet.

UNFPA will continue to play our role in helping young people, and to help the United Republic of Tanzania to respond the Global Goals for sustainable development. Along with Government and other development partners, we will do our very best to deliver a world where every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

The climax event assembled more than 800 students and representatives from government and local NGOs. Complete with performances, speeches and campaigns for peace, the festival provided youth with the opportunity to meet local leaders and demonstrate their support and commitment to peace building initiatives in the region.

Volunteers and speakers for the International Youth Day 2017 events in Tanzania represented the Government of Tanzania, the United Nations Tanzania, local schools and several NGOs. Partners included the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Youth and Disabled, UN Tanzania, VSO Tanzania, Raleigh Tanzania, Restless Development Tanzania, Save the Children, and Roots and Shoots.