As part of commemorative activities to mark the International Day of Peace 2020, UNESCO Regional Multisectoral Office for Central Africa, in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education of Cameroon, hosted a Townhall with over 50 young peacebuilders, influencers and artists. The activities aimed to highlight opportunities and challenges faced by young men and women in advancing the peace agenda in Cameroon, as well as making recommendations to relevant public institutions and development partners on how young peacebuilders can better be engaged for the achievement of a sustainable peace.
This activity, held online at the UNESCO’s meeting hall on Thursday 17 September 2020, was organized within the framework of the Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) project titled “Support for the Participation of Women and Young People in Initiatives Promoting Peacebuilding, Strengthening of Mechanisms for Social Cohesion and Living Together in Cameroon”, jointly implemented with UNICEF and UN WOMEN.
In his welcome remarks UNESCO’s Director, Mr. Salah Khaled, congratulated the participants for their engagement towards peacebuilding and reiterated the organisation’s commitment to supporting their efforts. The Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, His Excellency Mr. Mounouna Foutsou, equally congratulated the participants for their relentless efforts towards peacebuilding in their respective communities, and pledged Government’s support towards reinforcing their participation in initiatives that strengthen peace and social cohesion.
The townhall was moderated by two female leaders, Christel Youbi, President of Junior Chambers International (JCI) – Cameroon and Prudence Noutcha, Officer in charge of Youth Mobilisation and Civic participation with the National Youth Council of Cameroon, and key recommendations were made by the youth leaders who hailed mostly from Yaounde, Buea, Bamenda and Maroua.
In a nutshell, participants requested for more youth capacity-building programmes to be developed such as the UNESCO Peace Ambassador Scheme. They equally emphasized on the need to educate young people on discerning hate speech in political discourse, and refraining from it, and finally recommended that public institutions focus on strengthening entrepreneurship as a means to tackle the challenge of poverty in youth milieu, which stands as a permanent threat to peace.
Beyond the peacebuilders, young participating musical artists, notably Wax Dey from Calabash Music, Dynastie Le Tigre and the Tribute Sisters, underscored that arts are a powerful channel for the transmission of values in society and artists therefore have a personal responsibility to promote peace and social cohesion in their work.
The activity ended with musical performances by the artists and words of gratitude, from UNESCO’s Director and the Minister of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, who both pledged to follow through on the recommendations made by the participants and incorporate them in the work programmes of their respective institutions.