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“Youth are standing up, and need to stand up…” sang Rehema Jumbo as she and the Jamii Imara cultural group performed in front of an audience of hundreds of youths at the National Youth Symposium on International Youth Day in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Several cultural groups shared messages through song, dance, and edutainment.


“I am prepared to participate in the census, the young people in my community and I have been spreading the word… We are coming together as young people to support the development of Tanzania,” said Latifah Awadh amid booths set up for information sharing. Her booth promoted Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (Family Planning & HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention) and shared information with hundreds of youth throughout the day. 


Youth representing NGOs, civil society organizations, educational institutions, private sector, and multiple regions of the country gathered for the commemorations at Mlimani City conference center. Speakers and panel discussions recognized the International Youth Day aims to bring attention to challenges faced by youth, particularly in the areas of education and health, and celebrated the potential and contributions of youth as partners in development.


The global theme of “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages” was localized in Tanzania to "Everyone is Involved in Building a Strong Economy, Prosperity and Sustainable Development: Prepare to be Counted,” to reflect the country’s development priorities. In Kiswahili Language the theme is stated: “KILA MMOJA ANAHUSIKA KUJENGA UCHUMI IMARA, USTAWI NA MAENDELEO ENDELEVU: JIANDAE KUHESABIWA”.


Guest of Honor, Prof. Joyce Lazaro Ndalichako, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability said, “If it is clear youth will be encouraged and listened to, and preparations are well thought out, you are set up for success… Having youth on boards and commissions has been a rewarding experience for everyone involved….Youth voice is crucial to the overall effectiveness of service- learning programs. Youth voice has a tremendous impact on program participation and program outcomes, both short term and long term.” 


Young people shared inspirational stories and ideas through testimonies, presentations, exhibitions, and panel discussions. Health needs were served through sexual and reproductive health service provision and COVID-19 vaccination. Further commemorations included community outreach, media engagement and video messaging shared through social media. 


“Young people need to believe that they have a stake in society and a viable future.  They also need to see society believe, support and invest in them to realize their full potential and to co-create a better, safer future for succeeding generations,” said United Nations Resident Coordinator ad interim Ms. Christine Musisi. She recognized young people as key stakeholders in sustainable development and called for further youth empowerment, especially as in Tanzania, people under 30 years of age make up over 70% of the total population.


“Youth leadership and youth participation are key in decision-making and development processes. UNFPA recognizes that when empowered and provided with the right opportunities, youth are effective drivers of change,” said Dr. David Wilfred Ochan, Officer In Charge and Deputy Representative of UNFPA Tanzania. ​​He highlighted the urgency of investment in youth programming; as the youth population grows, concurrent expansion of access to resources is necessary for education, employment, and sexual and reproductive health in order to facilitate socio-economic development.


Speakers also included the Dar es Salaam Regional Administrative Secretary; Permanent Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office for Labour, Youth, Employment and Persons with Disability; and the Director of Youth Development, who spoke about the youth situation in Tanzania.


International Youth Day festivities repeatedly noted the importance of youth participation in the upcoming National Population and Housing Census, to be conducted by the Government of Tanzania, on Tuesday, 23 August. Speakers called for youth to ‘prepare to be counted,’ as the census population data will inform decision-making on resource allocation and policy development, including the youth-centered policies and programming. 


Further International Youth Day discussions included themes of youth participation in development programmes, civic engagement, engagement of youth with disabilities, and gender equality. Concurrent events also took place in Zanzibar and other areas of the country. The day was successful in motivating youth participation, awareness raising on youth contributions to development, and strengthening partnerships that address the needs of young people in Tanzania.