The 2nd Regional Youth E-conference themed “Youth Engagement for Global Action amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic” was held at Serena Hotel today August 11, to discuss sexual reproductive health, environment and climate change, job creation and leadership.
The conference was organised by Uganda Youth Network, Reach a Hand, Reproductive Health Uganda, Plan International Uganda and many others, all of which focus on the holistic well-being of the youths.
Among the topical discussions was the effect of the Covid-19 lockdown on all learners irrespective of their levels. It was pointed out that this indefinite suspension of school activities might be the end of the road for many girls.
Ms. Sonia Natalie, the chairperson African Youth Commission said, “many will not be able to finish school and for most of them, it will be a struggle to finish and eventually start their businesses or have financial independence,” Natalie said.
Natalie stressed that even those who had jobs but can’t go to work, working from home is not a viable solution since only a few can afford laptops and access to internet.
Considering the long term effects and possible solutions to such issues, Natalie posed the query to the government and also asked the youth to learn new skills that can be developmental even after the pandemic.
“Uganda is one of the countries with the youngest population on the continent. How are such countries preparing the young people to live with the effects of the pandemic?” she posed.
“We have had a challenge of young girls dropping out of school because of pregnancy and the number has increased with the ongoing pandemic,” an advocate of the ‘girls not brides’ campaign said.
Joyce from Trail Blazers said parents need to create more time for and with their children especially during the pandemic. “Young people need to be nurtured during their adolescent stage,” she noted.
“The challenge has been that many of the adult people have failed to understand the young people. When they begin to grow, go through adolescence and become youths, as adults we need to understand this stage and probably come up with innovative ways and strategies to engage them,” she advised.
Solomon, leader of the refugee youths, said that although the government has put up some measures to deal with effects of the pandemic, more has to be done.
“We as the urban refugee youths lack a lot of opportunities since people feel like we can take care of ourselves and have money because we are in the urban setting. But the fact is that we all have the needs like other refugees in other settlements,” he stated.
Lilian Uber, the chairperson of National Youth Council, said that the youth ought to engage in leadership so that they project the voice of the needs of their fellow youths.
“We need to engage young people globally. I am glad to note that many young people have taken the mantle to take up leadership positions, this is an indication that they are tired of sitting back,” she said.