Young people, their strong influence over the future of Ethiopia, and how to better serve the younger generation were the topics of last week’s National Youth Development Consultative Forum.
More than 200 participants—including representatives from non-governmental organizations, international organizations, youth associations, and civic society—joined senior government officials for the two-day event.
Titled “Integrated Multi-Sectoral Response for Sustainable Youth Development,” the event was the first of its kind in Ethiopia. It was held over two days at the Capital Hotel in Addis Ababa and organized by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs.
In his opening address to the audience, the President of Ethiopia His Excellency Dr. Mulatu Teshome identified young people as the key to Ethiopia reaching its long-term development and economic goals.
“Young people can contribute to the change and development that Ethiopia needs to achieve our renaissance at the national level,” he said. “In the past, youth have been tremendous in this country. They have served as core change agents and a key force.”
Moving forward, Teshome believes their role should not waiver.
“Therefore, relentless efforts and commitment should be put into perpetuating this history,” he said. “We must integrate our efforts with the young generation in order to ensure the country’s rapid economic growth and development.”
H.E. Zenebu Tadesse of the Minister of Women, Children and Youth Affairs; H.E Dr. Kebede Worku, the State Minister of Health; and Ms. Tsgereda Zewdu, Vice President of the Ethiopian Youth Federation also delivered remarks.
Over the two days of focused conversation and discussion, participants covered the many areas that can affect youth development: health, education, and the economy, among others.
“It’s true that young people still face many challenges here in Ethiopia,” said Dr. Mengistu Asnake, Pathfinder International’s Country Representative in Ethiopia. “But being here, talking about these issues, and with the amazing support from the Ethiopian government—that’s a huge step in the right direction.”
In his remarks, Teshome remained committed to responding to the needs of the country’s youth.
“We have to give due attention to eliminate the challenges of our young people,” he said. “We have to strive to build a strong young generation that plays a major role in the country’s developmental activities.”