Mar 16, 2017, 11:05 AM
The minister of Youth and Sports, Sheriff ML Gomez, yesterday presided over the official opening of a three-day national capacity building for youth at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
The event, funded by Big Lottery Fund (BLG) UK, was organised by the National Council of Young Men’s Christian Association of The Gambia (YMCA) to target ‘right based approach to youth employment and economic justice’.
In his statement, Minister Gomez applauded YMCA Gambia for organising the youth empowerment forum, saying: “There is need to empower and build the capacity of youth to make them proactive in order to bring about a positive change and understanding, especially with regard to legal instruments. Supporting youth employability and economic justice is key in any development process.”
He noted that his ministry is fully engaged in strategically ensuring a coherent coordination of all youth initiatives in the country.
“A right-based approach to youth employment and economic justice is really needed in The Gambia,” he said, adding that young people “suffer more” as they form the core of the workforce in the country, therefore the need to be a consolidated approach geared towards their protection from all forms of abuse, discrimination and violence is very important.
“The initiative to trust youths and give them the resources needed is indeed worthy of commendation,” he said. “My ministry and the Government of The Gambia want to recognise and put on record the great work of the Gambia YMCA through its international partners.”
Minister Gomez finally urged the participants to take such a pertinent workshop seriously, saying that though it might be very challenging but would create a very interactive environment for learning.
In his address at the ceremony, Mr Simon Cole, Chairperson of YMCA programmes and development committee, said the Gambia YMCA is an ecumenical youth organization that is registered as a national NGO in the country in June 1979.
Since then, he added, the Association’s programmes have been geared towards developing the full potential of young people by creating opportunities for their positive participation in national development.
He noted that the YMCA also advocates for “the total development of the body, mind and spirit of young people as well as women” irrespective of faith, age, sex, and social condition.
“Over the years the Gambia YMCA has championed youth employment issues and sustainable livelihood programmes for both urban and rural youths,” he said.
He disclosed that the BLF recently funded a life skills and enterprise development programme for marginalised and disadvantaged male and female youths across the country.
He also told the participants to take the training seriously and put into practice whatever they learn during the three days.
For his part, Joseph Peacock, the BLF project coordinator, stated that the Gambia YMCA, through its BLF funded project, has since 2008 been engaging youth advocates, local government authorities among others with the view to galvanize support in addressing the youth employment scourge and its corresponding challenges.
According to him, the three-day workshop is designed to set a conducive working environment for the youths through discussion on rights-based service provision and key human rights issues as the problem of forced labour and child labour, to mobilize local policymakers to press on the commitments made by government towards youth employment and other issues relating to youth development.
“I assure you that the BLF funded project staff team is well prepared to accelerate and enhance the positive influence and impact into the future,” he said.