By Gwendolyn S. Myers/Founder &Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP)
We congratulate the new government, headed by President George Weah, on the appointment of several young people to their cabinet. The consensus among young Liberians is that; this is giant step in the right direction.
As these young cabinet members begin their work and settle in to their new roles, there are several ideas of specific points that should be considered to consult and include other young people in the existing framework for peace and development.
While we continue to suggest ways to opening a new chapter for peace through dialogue, we must and should get beyond lofty rhetoric and consultation and start to address youth unemployment, inadequate education, and poor infrastructure to basic amenities that continue to make headlines, and concentrate on opening other opportunities to quickly engage young people.
Peace and development, as we have always advocated, is everyone’s business. Furthermore, research and dialogue support the view that young people can make huge contributions to peace through meaningful involvement and their active participation.
We are first to admit that inclusive growth and development is more than mere engagement of young people, more than skills and jobs; and that educational and economic success of any nation are interdependent on many variables including human rights, justices, security and safety, democracy and good governance.
A new chapter for peace would address the issue of how young people can contribute to peace and development in their respective schools, communities and the country at large. We are aware of the tremendous work of other youth groups undertaken to unite their communities and we would like to highlight these innovative programmes to the public through our weekly column.
In addition to highlighting the work of young people in peace, we call on Government, development partners and civil society to ensure gender parity by integrating gender into all development programmes.
A new chapter for peace would require new partnership with young people for peace, stability and development; this in turn would require mutual accountability framework and transparency. Dialogue among peace messengers indicate that if young people should be part of the new chapter for peace, they should be given concrete role in the implementation of peace programmes. Given the roles that young people played during the last elections, they can no longer be left behind.
For the sake of our common future, it is imperative that the new government would prioritize the rights, participation and leadership of young people in the formulation of a new agenda for peace.
Our work in MOP-Liberia would be structured to dialogue, peace advocacy through writing competition among schools across Liberia and the establishment of mediation groups and network of young mediators. There is need to invigorate and re-energize the existing column with the Daily Observer through the bird eyes view of young people.
The months ahead would determine how as young people, we consolidate our unique roles as peace builders in the new government. Ultimately sustainable peace in Liberia depends on us as peace is for everyone. Until next week when we dialogue on ‘A New Chapter for Peace-Part 3, Peace above all else, Peace first, May Peace prevail.