On August 12, 2021, the CIPE Civic Engagement Hub (CEH) – in collaboration with the Model African Union and the Nile Youth Development Actions (NYDA) – commemorated International Youth Day with a joint event on the topic of “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health”.
The program guest of honor H.E. Ambassador Salah Hammad, Head of African Union (AU) Governance Architecture, AU Commission conducted a keynote speech highlighting the importance of youth participation in development. Human rights defender and activist Mr. Obang Metho, AU Commission’s Youth Development Programme Officer Daniel Adugna, and representatives from CIPE’s East Africa Regional Office also spoke at the event. The program was attended by 50 people from the AU, international and local civil society organizations, as well as youth representatives.
As part of the commemorative event, the CIPE CEH hosted a four-speaker panel session that included Ephrem Birhanu from Talent Youth Association (TaYA), Dagmawi Selamisa from the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Anket Petrous from Oxfam Ethiopia, and Eden Meleke from Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). The panelists shared their experiences with advocacy, volunteerism, civic engagement, and youth engagement, and shared challenges and opportunities in Ethiopia’s current civic engagement space. Panelists cited the emergence and accessibility of technology as well as the increased government attention on volunteerism as major opportunities for future civic engagement. Among other key takeaways, panelists provided the below recommendations to promote youth civic engagement in Ethiopia:
- Create youth networking channels to encourage civic engagement
- Enhance youth skills and provide funding opportunities for civic engagement
- Recognize the potential of youth: view youth as a solution rather than a problem
- Increase the role for young women in civic engagement
- Increase coordination between stakeholders working in the civic engagement space
Following the joint event, participants were able to connect and network with other youth and community leaders engaged in civic engagement in Ethiopia.