Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been awarded the "Protect the Goal Leadership Award" presented at the 4th Pan-African Youth Leadership Summit in Dakar. The conference, which was organized by the Pan-African Network of Youth Leaders to the United Nations in collaboration with UNAIDS and UNFPA brought together more than 500 young Africans to the Senegalese capital of Dakar from 13-17 January 2014.
Acclaimed Liberian youth activist and Executive Director of Youth Action International, Dr. Kimmie Weeks, who represented President Sirleaf at the event and received the award on the President’s behalf referred to the award as a “milestone for Liberia and a challenge to do more to address issues affecting Liberia’s youth.” Weeks noted: “this award from the youth of Africa is a recognition of the work the President has already done, a realization of the importance of her role on as co-chair of eminent persons addressing the post 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and also the major and important task of addressing youth unemployment issues in Liberia.”
A letter from UNAIDS to President Sirleaf noted further that the award was being presented to her for her role in “supporting young people and bridging gender gaps, and for dedication to fighting HIV/AIDS that encompasses the spirit of UNAIDS’ Protect the Goal campaign.”
Held under the theme: "Youth unemployment in the post-2015 development agenda," the conference focused on major issues affecting Africa’s youth population including unemployment, HIV/AIDS and youth participation in the advancement of the Millennium Development Goals. At the close of the summit, African youth leaders called on governments across the continent to set up a 'Dakar Appeal' fund for tackling youth unemployment as they wrapped up the five-day conference. Reiterating the key outcome of the conference, Mr. Djibril Diallo, Special Adviser to the Executive Director of UNAIDS said: "young people have called for the heads of state and government to sort out the problem of unemployment."
The Network of Youth Leaders of Africa and the Diaspora (NYLAD), which organized the event with the United Nations, is to make a formal request for the fund through Senegalese President Macky Sall and his Malian counterpart Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to the United Nations and African Union.