Following yesterday’s formal establishment of the new Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC), official delegates to the 9thCommonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) today elected the Council’s inaugural nine-member Executive.
Ahmed Adamu from Nigeria will chair the new body, which will be the recognised voice of the 1.2 billion young people of the Commonwealth, and a framework for youth-led development initiatives.
Youth leaders have invested great amounts of time and passion on the formation of a CYC constitution and structure since the concept was first mooted in 2010 and endorsed by Heads of Government in Perth, Australia, in 2011. Over the past two days at the CYF in Hambantota, Sri Lanka, candidates from national youth bodies across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth have been campaigning for the right to lead the CYC.
The inaugural Executive of the Commonwealth Youth Council, who will serve a two year term until the next CYC General Assembly in Mauritius in 2015, are:
Chairperson: Ahmed Adamu from Nigeria
Vice Chairperson (Policy, Advocacy & Projects): Sudharshana Lakshmi from India
Vice Chairperson (Partnerships & Resources): Sadham Zarjahan from Sri Lanka
Vice Chairperson (Inclusion & Engagement): Mohamed Husni from Sri Lanka
Regional Representative – Africa & Europe: Kiziah Philbert from Kenya
Regional Representative – Asia: Tharika Dileepani from Sri Lanka
Regional Representative – Caribbean & Americas: Royden Beharry from Grenada
Regional Representative – Pacific: Harry James from Solomon Islands
Representative – Special Interest Groups: Wathsala Samarakoon from Sri Lanka
With the CYC elections as an exciting backdrop, the CYF has also continued with expert presentations and policy working group sessions on the sub themes ‘Gender Equality’, ‘Generating Quality Youth Employment’ and ‘Reconciliation and Social Cohesion’. Delegates are aiming to shape national and Commonwealth agendas on topics of particular interest to young people under the theme ‘Inclusive Development- Stronger Together!’. The sessions engendered lively debate and strong recommendations, which will inform the youth leaders’ meeting with Heads of Government at CHOGM later in the week.
Speaking on youth employment, Ms Barbara Kasumu from Elevations Network said
“Vocational and technical training qualifications need to be valued at the same level as traditional academic routes. Education alone does not guarantee employment outcomes and more must be done to ensure that work experience is fully integrated into a young person’s learning experience.”
Delegate Racheal Kalaba from Zambia, who attended the session, said
“I was very impressed with the philosophy of the young speaker Ravi Theja Muthu from India, who told us that if we can’t get out of the box that restricts our entrepreneurial endeavors, then we should destroy the box and think in new ways.”
At the end of a long but fruitful day, delegates took part in a cultural performance,with an amazing show of diverse traditions and talent. The young people collaborated on a regional basis to demonstrate the CYF themes through dance, song and traditional instruments.