The Head of Liberia’s Chapter, West African Youth Network (WAYN), Arthur Becker, has re-affirmed his organization’s commitment to promoting youth’s empowerment, peace and security, democracy and good governance, women and girl’s empowerment, environment and climate change interventions, among others, in the the sub-region.
Mr. Becker made the statement on Saturday, August 8, 2020, when the Alumni of WAYN observed its 19th anniversary and held its first reunion meeting via Zoom, reflecting on the gains made over the years since its existence.
The event was also held in collaboration with Jacobs-Abbey Global Institute for Leadership Studies (Jagils). The event, which invited all WAYN alumnus both in West Africa and the Diaspora, brought together approximately 23 young professionals across West Africa and the Diaspora who, according to WAYN, has contributed significantly to promoting positive social change and the creation of open societies in West Africa.
The event was held under the theme: “19 years of empowering young people in West Africa and the Diaspora as agents for social transformation and democratic empowerment.”
Speaking about the meeting, Mr. Bekar said that the organization’s attention was mainly focused on the reunion and how they can contribute to collective effort and professional competencies to promote Peace and security, democracy and governance, women and girl’s empowerment, environment and climate change interventions, human rights and justice, educational scholarships for youth development as well as humanitarian emergencies in West Africa.
“We have fully committed ourselves, and also to ensure that we advise the national government on moving policies forward in the interest of their citizenry through policy briefs and constructive engagements,” he said. “We have also agreed to ensure that WAYN forges a stronger partnership with the Mano River Union (MRU), ECOWAS, the African Union (AU) and other regional and international institutions around the world, including the building of stronger advocacy platforms for youth and women’s participation in political processes.”
According to him, the meeting also highlighted the issues of terrorism and Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV). He further acknowledged the issue of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is currently faced by the region and the world at large. “We were looking at what contributions we can make as young people in the midst of COVID-19,” he said.
He believes that young people must be able to build stronger networks across the sub-region. Mr. Becker also mentioned the issue of climate change, which is a significant interest to West Africa as well as around the world.
He stressed other issues that have to do with drug abuse, arms conflict, where nowadays young people are getting involved into conflict and terroristic acts across the sub-region. This, he said, was also reflected in the meeting. “We are now developing a comprehensive and ambitious concept notes they will be selling out to international partners,” he noted.
He disclosed that in the next few weeks the concept notes will be out and will be distributed amongst everyone across West Africa and other colleagues who also participated in the meeting from the Diaspora so as to find a way through which they can find funding to take practical steps towards these challenges that young people are faced with in West Africa.
Mr. Becker stated that at the end of the meeting they were able to come up with what he called policy advisory to the national government on particular thematic areas; however, he described the role of the youth as significant in achieving these goals.
It may be recalled that in August 2007, WAYN-Liberia collaborated with the MRU (Mano River Union) Youth Parliament, to stage the second session of the MRU Youth Parliament in Monrovia, Liberia. The second session brought together members of the Parliament and was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
WAYN has been actively working over the last few years to enhance the participation of young people in issues relating to peacebuilding, conflict resolution, governance, accountability, youth development and human rights in West Africa. It was set up in March 2001.