Marking International Youth Day 2007 on 13 August, the United Nations opened the doors of its African headquarters to hear the views of young on life and the future.
Some 100 young people from youth organizations were joined by representatives from the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs, Kenya, United Nations Specialized Agencies and Programmes, the diplomatic corps and private sector representatives in Kenya to inaugurate a UN exhibition, entitled, Be Seen, Be Heard: Youth participation for development.
This initiative offered unique opportunity for members of the UN family in Kenya strengthen collaboration and embark on joint action planning for programmes to benefiting young people. Youth participating were presented a platform for making new contacts and partnerships for practical action towards their greater participation in processes and decisions that affect their lives.
Welcoming guests to the event, Mr. Eric Falt, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information of the United Nations Environment Programme called the occasion a unique opportunity for highlighting UN support and collaboration with young people. Urging the youth to familiarize themselves with the mandates of UN Agencies, he encouraged them to actively interact and engage the various representatives of UN bodies in Kenya. He further challenged the youth to come up with a plan of action enriched with commitments in all areas represented at the exhibition that would serve as a checklist for success for International Youth Day celebrations in 2008.
In a speech read on her behalf, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, who also serves as the Director General of the UN Office in Nairobi, told the young audience that over 200 million youth live in poverty, 130 million of them illiterate, 88 million living with HIV/AIDs and that the case for a renewed commitment for working with young people to attain the Millennium Development Goals was vital. She said the agency’s Global Partnership Initiative sought to empower youth through One-Stop youth resource centres, that have been set up in four African cities to help young people learn about employment, computers, education and other prospects for the future.
Other speakers included the Acting United Nations Resident Coordinator, Mr. Alexander Varghese, and Ms. Susan Njau, Deputy Director, Youth Development, at the Kenyan Youth Affairs ministry, Mr. Mutua Kiuh from the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, Mr. Robert Njoroge, Programme Manager, Africa Youth Trust.