Women and Youth—Africa’s key to a bright future

Women and Youth—Africa’s key to a bright future

A new Africa is quickly arriving. The continent is on the rise as initiatives are being taken to move Africa into a brighter future. Leaders on the continent have discovered Africa’s true potential and it is not gold, oil, or diamonds, but its very own population, especially the women and children.

Empowering these demographics will play a vital role in developing the continent. As such, African governments have created programs (working alongside NGO’s) to educate and instill necessary skills and leadership in women and youth.


As of 2015, almost 50% of Africa’s population is under the age of 15. Having a significant youth population, it is recognized that educating the youth and getting them engaged in new opportunities is paramount. To that end, 42 African governments have signed on to create the African Youth Charter (AVC) initiative. The Charter serves as the strategic framework that gives direction for youth empowerment and development at continental, regional and national levels. The AYC aims to strengthen, reinforce and consolidate efforts to empower young people through meaningful youth participation. There are a number of NGO’s doing similar work including the African Leadership Academy (ALA) and the Organisation of African Youth (OAYOUTH). Furthermore, organizations like HAVOYOCO are teaching youth marketable skills, such as computer literacy, electronics repair, and office management. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), youth employment in countries like Swaziland and Nigeria are projected to increase every year.

Having a significant youth population, it is recognized that educating the youth and getting them engaged in new opportunities is paramount.

African Youth Day celebrates children and reaching the goals set in Africa’s Agenda 2063. The AU Youth day is organized by the Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology (HRST) of the African Union Commission in collaboration with the Pan-African Youth Union and Youth Alliance for Leadership in Africa (YALDA). The theme of this year’s Africa Youth Day Summit is in line with the theme of the 2016 African Union Summit “African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”.

Every year, the percentage of educated women and children in Africa continues to grow. According to the Africa-America Institute (AAI), “sub-Saharan Africa achieved the greatest gains in secondary education participation compared to all other regions of the world between 1999 and 2012” and that “universities in many African countries are experiencing a surge in their enrollment. Between 2000 and 2010, higher education enrollment more than doubled, increasing from 2.3 million to 5.2 million”, and in 2011, women made up 54% of all students enrolled in universities in South Africa. As such, there are more individuals on the continent now than ever before that have the knowledge, tools, and drive to create change and find success. What they need now are opportunities. Fred Swaniker, Founder and CEO of African Leadership Academy clarified, “We must use this significant inflection point in the continent’s history to guarantee that the entrepreneurial nimbleness, grit, and vigor of Africa’s youth can be utilized to help lift the economies of Africa”.

Now, more than ever, women on the African continent are finding success, inspiring, and reaching their goals.

Now, more than ever, women on the African continent are finding success, inspiring, and reaching their goals. They are becoming the entrepreneurs, businesswomen, and advocates that are building Africa to reach its potential. Programs like the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) help fuel this shift as it works to increase the integration of African businesswomen into the global economy and holds business strategy forums as well as networking events. Furthermore, at International Women’s Day 2016, The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF), a grant-making foundation that supports local, national, and regional women’s organizations working towards the empowerment of African women, held two events about the status, role, and contribution of African women.

Rwanda will be holding the African Union Summit in July, where initiatives that must be taken on the African continent will take precedence and empowering women and children will be the main subject of discussion. Africa is on the rise and women and children will make the difference.


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