Mildette A. Somar, Co-Chair on the Advisory Board of the Messengers of Peace (MOP), has acknowledged that the role of young people in curtailing electoral conflict, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), and the prevention of COVID-19 is critical.
Madam Somar made the statement when she served as the keynote speaker at a program marking the 51st National Youth Day celebration. The event was held under the theme “The Role of the Youth in Fighting COVID-19, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Liberia.
Addressing scores of youth at the event, Madam Somar said this moment presents another opportunity for critical reflection over challenges to national progress and the role of young people in driving social impact in the country.
She said the coming months are proving to be critical with the issues of the mid-term elections, noting that elections are not only critical for national growth and development but equal potentials of igniting conflict and political unrest.
According to her, the role of young people in curtailing violence, SGBV, and COVID-19 is cardinal to the growth and development of Liberia during and after the December 8, 2020 elections. She cautioned the youth to remain peaceful and denounce any form of violence.
She indicated that it is about time to reflect on the national gains and achievements won by the youth of Liberia from diverse backgrounds.
She recalled that in mid-March 2020, Liberia Health authorities announced its first case of Coronavirus. By then, the pandemic had already overwhelmed large economies and robust health systems in Asia, Europe, and America.
She also counted the different roles that the youth community has led based on projects and social change programs in the fight against COVID-19. “Young people mobilized through voluntary efforts, most notability the Liberia National Youth Task Force against COVID-19 under the supervision of the Ministry of Youth and Sports where they played a significant role”
“If we are to celebrate a milestone in the fight against COVID-19, SGBV, and other abuses,” she said, “young Liberians should not be written as footnotes in the chronicles of history, but rather headlines. She noted that young people are still front-liners in the development drive of Liberia, describing them as people who continue to break barriers restore hopes, and bring life to people in underprivileged settings.
“As we celebrate the 51st National Youth Day, it is because we are winning a battle led by the youth community at local and national levels.”
It may be recalled that on October 29, 1969, the National Youth Day was enacted into law by the national Legislature. Since its enactment, Youth Day has been celebrated annually in recognition of the countless and meaningful contributions and constant engagement at local, international, and global levels that young Liberians are making.
Meanwhile, Isaac N. Doe, Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, recognized all youth organizations during the event and acknowledged that their roles played over the years cannot be ignored. He indicated that the youth of Liberia constitute about 65% of the population and as such, it is important to take their plight seriously.
Minister Doe said if Liberia must succeed, the young people must never be left out of any decision making processes. Minister Doe who earlier spoke on behalf of Minister D. Zeogar Wilson, said over the years many things happened, most of which have in so many ways impacted the lives of the young people.
He indicated that over the years the MYS has developed effective programs to adequately and appropriately respond where necessary and one of such responses was the Youth Opportunity Project (YOP) to foster the livelihood and improvement of a batch of beneficiaries.
However, this year’s national you day celebration brought together the youth groups including the Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY), the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU), and the Minor River Union Youth Parliament.