The European Union Gives Young Africans a Voice
Since coming back from the EU fully funded trip to Brussels, where I spoke on a high-level panel on Women and girls health, I have come to appreciate better the works of the European Commission in my Country and in my Continent.
It is almost 3 month since the European Commission hosted the 12th Edition of the European Development Days but here I am still reminiscing about the experience of a lifetime, for newbies the European Development Days has been Europe’s leading forum on development since 2006, organized by the European Commission, the European Development Days (EDD) brings the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. I was privileged to be amongst the 8 young Leaders invited from Africa to come to speak on high-level panels during the event. The European Union over time has shown a great deal of interest in hearing from young African Leaders and she has consistently invested funding and other resources in bringing Africa's youth voices to the forefront of Sustainable development.
Africa has the most youthful population across all the continents on the planet with over 30% of her total population in the youth bracket (15-24), yet Africa's youth voices nor opinion are rarely being heard and acted upon by African leaders and policymakers, this situation is even more annoying for the young girls and women who are discriminated against twice based on their age and gender. But the European Union and its commission are helping break this discrimination as she has constantly given Young Africans the platform to make their voices heard both internationally and locally, in the just concluded 2018 edition of the EDD, myself and 6 other vocal ladies who are not just champions for women and girls right but also authorities in their Fields were invited on a fully-funded opportunity to speak alongside World Leaders and policymakers sharing youthful solutions to major challenges affecting young people across the continent with a key focus on women and girls. Before the 2 Days event, we were hosted for 8days by the European Commission at Brussels City center, where the commission invested resources in training us and building our capacities to be effective speakers at the Event.
The European Union believes deeply that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow but their leadership begins even today and in all her partnerships with the African Union they have given a platform for youth voices to be heard by both continental powerhouse, once again the European Union made this evident during the AU-EU youth plugin initiative whereby 18 African and 18 European youth were given the unique opportunity to be part of the decision-making processes of both continents, as well as a key vector of visibility for the institutions’ efforts to include young voices in sustainable development dialogues. Again in my home country, Nigeria the EU delegation to Nigeria and the Ecowas led by Ambassador Ketil Karlsen of the European External Action service played a key role in lobbying the parliament to pass the not too young to run bill that shook the very foundation of democracy, this feat was achieved by the EU delegation in Nigeria for young people by involving young people during the program design and funding young people advocacy initiatives for the Bill.
Since coming back from the EU fully funded trip to Brussels, where I spoke on a high-level panel on Women and girls health, I have come to appreciate better the works of the European Commission in my Country and in my Continent, whenever I see roads undergoing constructions in my local community here in Nigeria I excitedly tell my peers how interested the European Union is about sustainable development in our communities. During the pre-EDD training that was held for us in preparation for the event, we got to visit key EU actors such as Neven Mimiça the European Commissioner for Development and International Cooperation, Stefano Manservisi the DEVCO Director General, meeting with these Key EU actors and World leaders was one of my highlight being at the European Development Days, these Global leaders had genuine interests in the activities and change we were creating in our local communities across Africa and they were keen on how we could scale our impact by collaborating with the EU in our different