August 23, 2008

EVENTS: Media & Advocacy Camp for African Youths Kicks off

Media & Advocacy Camp for African Youths Kicks off

A five-day media and advocacy camp for African youths kicked off Friday (August 22) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Facilitated by Speak Africa, a multi-partner Pan African child and youth focused communication platform and strategy, currently with a secretariat based in UNICEF, Ethiopia, the camp will afford young people from across the continent the opportunity to share experiences, learn from each other, and contribute to the agenda of creating an Africa Fit for Children and Youth.

About twenty youth from seven countries are attending the camp which is also focused on giving young people the opportunity to get familiar with how to engage with decision-making processes on the continent, current development issues affecting African youth, and continental advocacy campaigns such as the Speak Africa "No Violence against Children and Youth" campaign.

Participants who are youths with media skills and interest in advocacy will explore development of advocacy and communication strategies, media advocacy for human rights, as well as basic journalism skills. Resources persons are from WITNESS (an international human rights organisation), Youth Media & Communication Initiative (an international organisation with focus on children and media), the African University College of Communication (based in Ghana), BBC World Service Trust, the African Child Policy Forum, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UNICEF, Ethiopia.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Kerida McDonald, Chief Communication Cluster, UNICEF Ethiopia, noted that Speak Africa was not a UNICEF project but rather an agenda for African youth and the whole of Africa. She urged everyone to come on board. "Speak Africa is an evolving concept; it keeps growing and changing with the input of participants", Dr. McDonald added.

Reiterating the importance of 2008 as the Year of the African Youth and the need to put issues affecting African youth on the front burner of continental discourse, Dr. McDonald noted that youths in Africa won't have this kind of glorious opportunity to make their voices heard for another decade. She lamented the fact that almost a decade after the adoption of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) there were ten countries that had not ratified the charter and only four countries had ratified the African Youth Charter since its adoption in 2006.

Dr McDonald urged participants to be advocates for the ratification of both charters in their various countries before November 1, 2008, (Africa Youth Day) by petitioning their governments to show demonstration of their commitment to the 2008 Year of the African Youth and commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.

The opening day saw three presentations. The first was a video on "No Violence Campaign" by the African Child Policy Forum. This was followed by a presentation on youth and advocacy by Chido Onumah, Coordinator of the Youth Media & Communication Initiative. The last presentation on using video as tool for advocacy was by Bukeni Waruzi, Program Coordinator, Africa and Middle East for WITNESS.

The Advocacy Camp is one of the activities on the Plan of Action for the African Union designated Year of the African Youth (YAY) 2008. The plan was developed at a consultative meeting held in January this year in collaboration with the African Union, UNICEF, UNECA and other UN partners, the African Child Policy Forum, Plan International, Save the Children and youth from across the continent.


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