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Author: Betty Kankam-Boadu
At Global Citizen, the voices of young people are at the heart of our mission to drive change and end extreme poverty now. The potential and power that young people hold to transform the lives of people and communities around the world is undeniable, but to do this young people must be empowered and their voices must be heard.
Africa is home to the world’s biggest youth population, with about 60% of the continent’s people being below 25 years old. With the right tools, education, resources, and encouragement, these young people represent a living solution to the issues that plague the continent — from hunger and unemployment, to climate change and poor sanitation.
Africa’s young people are energetic, smart, vibrant, creative, and entrepreneurial, with a readiness to help solve the biggest challenges that face Africa, and the world, right now.
That’s why we’re on a crucial mission with the 2022 Global Citizen Festival campaign to mount pressure on world leaders, businesses, and philanthropists to make commitments that will go a long way to transform the lives of young people, especially in Africa.
Global Citizen during a breakout session at the Youth Forum in Accra
Global Citizen Festival: Accra builds upon Global Citizen’s continued expansion of our pan-African movement, a continued rallying cry to take action for girls, for the planet, and to create change. In the run up to the festival on Sept. 24, we held a youth forum in collaboration with the Office of the President of Ghana’s Youth Engagement Office.
The goal was to empower a generation of active young people to lead change. It was also an opportunity to better understand the issues that matter to the youth in Ghana across the areas of climate change, girls’ empowerment, systemic barriers that keep people in poverty, and the solutions that can help to improve young people’s lives.
Let’s transport you to that enlightening day on Sept. 8. We want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the most powerful words that were said at the forum, so that you too can be inspired by the potential of Africa’s young people, and if you are a young person, you can be driven to take action and lead a generation.
Aisha Addo from Power to Girls Foundation at the Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
1. “You cannot empower young people without adults. Adults have lessons that they can share as well.” — Aisha Addo, Power to Girls Foundation
Francis Okoe Armah at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
2. “Irrespective of the opportunities available for girls they will still coil back and it is actually the role of all of us, especially boys because we benefit from the system. It is my responsibility to use my power and voice to speak against the inequality girls face.” — Francis Okoe Armah, Youth Development Practitioner
Vivian Fiscian at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
3. “The only thing that can drive the progress of girls is education” — Vivian Fiscian, Gender and Social Inclusion Expert
Philip Kwesi Agyei at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
4. “Economic empowerment for women is one of the areas I will recommend for any policy priority, because we believe that when women are actually empowered, they empower the entire nation.” — Philip Kwesi Agyei, Founder, Alliance for African Women Initiative
Josephine Agbeko at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
5. “When we begin to take action against climate crises and we don’t do it in ways that are contextualised, or ways that position humans at the centre, we run the risk of delivering climate action that still excludes people.” — Josephine Agbeko, Climate Action City Advisor for C40 Cities
Richmond Kennedy Quarcoo at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
6. “To take climate change seriously, world leaders should actually honour their pledges. We cannot fight climate change with lip service. We cannot fight climate change with some form of shadow colonialism. We cannot fight climate change by pushing other people to act when you have not acted.” — Richmond Kennedy Quarcoo, CEO of Plastic Punch
Lorretta Domfeh at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
7. “Every knowledge is important. It’s not all about technical knowledge it’s not just about the expert.” — Lorretta Domfeh, Programme Lead, Junior Achievement Africa
Kelechi Victor Ofoegbu at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
8. “There is absolutely no doubt that young people have the capacity to contribute to national development. Let’s continue to create more opportunities to make that possible at the highest levels.” — Kelechi Victor Ofoegbu, Co-Founder, Impact Hub Accra
Oladimeji Abdul-malik Edu at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
9. “You can have a seat at the table and not know what to do. The very best way to involve young people in conversations about policy-making and policy prioritisation is to take them through practical experiences on how they can contribute meaningfully.” — Oladimeji Abdul-malik Edu, Country Director of AIESEC Ghana
Dr Gamel Sankarl at Global Citizen Youth Forum, Accra
10. “Whatever you have been called to do, you should know how to do it and do it very well. You shouldn’t be doing it to the point of getting personal projection but with the view of helping and impacting more lives.” — Dr. Gamel Sankarl, Lecturer, University College of Holistic Medicine and Technology
Global Citizen Festival is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before to End Extreme Poverty NOW. Through our global campaign and with stages in two iconic locations — NYC’s Central Park and Accra’s Black Star Square — we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizens around the world on Sept. 24 to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates. Wherever you are in the world, you can join the campaign and take action right now by downloading the Global Citizen app.