14 March, 2014 (Suva, Fiji) – Youths make up one-third of Fiji’s population and have the potential to make a difference in the community, improve current living standards and increase access for all in the development process.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Assistant Resident Representative, Asenaca Ravuvu made these comments while delivering the keynote address during the National Youth Council of Fiji’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) today. She said that the voices of young people are not often heard when it comes to decision and policy-making in political processes…and to ensure young people participate in an effective way, it is crucial to develop the capacity of youths.
Over 144 youths are in Suva attending the fourth AGM for the National Youth Council of Fiji. This includes representatives from the Provincial Youth Forum of the Fiji Islands which includes the 14 provinces in Fiji, including Rotuma while Kioa and Rabi are included as part of the Cakaudrove province, and members of the Youth Assembly of the Fiji Islands.
“This AGM will provide a strong platform for constructive discussion for the development of the National Youth Council of Fiji, particularly as you review your Constitution, Strategic Plan and new structure,” Ms Ravuvu said.
Ms Ravuvu encouraged the leadership to be accountable in informing members of past and future activities; to encourage participatory processes that allow active dialogue with members; and congratulated the provinces and organizers for including women at local decision-making levels.
“Women not only have an important role to play in the home but can also contribute useful talents in other areas of nation building.
“The members attending this forum are very passionate. Some of them understand how our systems work and others do not, so part of this process is helping to bridge this gap,” said General Secretary of the National Youth Council of Fiji, Emily Erasito.
She added that “the National Youth Council of Fiji doesn’t work in isolation but in partnership with development partners like UNDP and the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The 144 youths present are also asking the tough questions of the representation of the National Youth Council of Fiji and how we can work together to move forward during this transitional period.”
UNDP is increasingly supporting youth policy and programme at the country, regional and global levels, including the establishment of the National Youth Council of Fiji. As part of its commitment to youth development, in 2012, UNDP launched its Strategy for Engaging Pacific Youth in Development 2013-2017. This Strategy sets out guidelines for engaging with Pacific youth in development as a long term path to better outcomes for young people and for the broader society that they are an integral part of.
UNDP is also part of a network of youth stakeholder organizations in the Pacific including other UN agencies, regional organizations and programmes like the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Leadership Programme, Commonwealth Youth Programme and Secretariat of the Pacific Community and civil society organisations like the Pacific Youth Council and FemLINK Pacific.