Southern Africa: Youth called to move the gender agenda

Southern Africa: Youth called to move the gender agenda

Date: October 28, 2014
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Johannesburg, 29 May: Youth have been called to be more proactive and take an interest in gender equality issues. Speaking at the opening of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol@Work Summit that kicked off on 26 May 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Emma Kaliya said the youth must take advantage of the presence of the old generation and draw from their wisdom to move the gender agenda forward.

Indeed, the youth from the region already have an interest in gender issues as exhibited at the summit. Nythen Dien, 17 years old, is one of the youngest delegates at the summit and he is junior mayor in Keetmanshoop, Namibia. He advocates for young female role modelling in leadership. Having being raised by a single parent, Dien regards his mother as his role model. He took a deliberate decision to highlight female leadership advocacy at a very young age.

His case study specifically highlighted two young phenomenal female role models who according to Dien are the most inspiring people one can meet. He added that they are contributing greatly to 50/50 by 2015 due to their immense leadership skills and charisma.

“Traditionally, in most of our cultures women are taught to conform to patriarchal practices. However, empowering women would do away with this prejudice” says Dien.

Dien encouraged all the countries and participants at the summit to implement junior town councils in their municipalities as this is the earliest form of grooming that young female leaders can and should be assessed and trained on. Realising 50/50 should highlight the quality of women’s’ work not just the quantity”, said Dien.

Dien’s initiative aims to have more female leadership training at grassroots level and then bringing parity not only in the Keetmanshoop Town Council which has two males as both mayor and deputy mayor.

A lot more work is essentially necessary in order to realise 50/50 with the focus on youth being of utmost importance. The discourse of including the youth in the quest for gender equality should be at the centre of community development.

Jethro Kwenani is a student at the Polytechnic Namibia. This article is part of the GL News Service special coverage of the SADC Gender Protocol Summit underway at Kopanong Hotel and Conference Centre in Johanesburg, South Africa, offering fresh views on everday news.

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