UNICEF Zimbabwe Youth Advocate and U-Report Ambassador, Siatra Msandu opened the official Youth Day today in Belgium, with EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and the Africa Union and European Union Youth Envoys.
European Union and African leaders are meeting in Brussels for the 6th European Union – African Union summit on 17 and 18 February 2022.
In the run-up to the summit, the first edition of the Africa-Europe week will be a key moment to bring together young people, civil society, governments and the private sector from Africa and Europe to discuss aspects of the Africa-EU Partnership.
Youth participation, climate change, mental health, education, and digital transformation are key topics young people will be debating with policymakers and leaders.
“I am very excited to have this opportunity. Over the past two years, I have been a U-Report Ambassador and all our advocacy has been online because of COVID-19. This summit is a unique opportunity for us young people that have been advocating through the U-Report platform about important concerns, to finally table our issues with the world leaders,” said Siatra, who comes from Norton in Harare Province, and is a passionate advocate for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), climate change and using digital solutions to improve the lives of young people.
The EU and UNICEF are long-standing partners in Zimbabwe and the EU supports many major programmes including the Health Development Fund (HDF), the Spotlight Initiative as well as humanitarian and emergency responses in the country – all critical programmes in supporting the health and well-being of children and young people in the country.
Timo Olkkonen, Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe said, “We very much welcome Siatra’s participation in the Africa – Europe week. The EU is determined to put youth at the heart of its policies and to give them a seat at the decision-making table. We strongly believe that young people have the potential to shape their societies and they have to be heard. Also from Zimbabwe, as we continue to build on the Africa-EU Partnership, youth are critical in identifying the needs of our two continents and in working towards a better future for all.”
UNICEF Zimbabwe acting Representative, Zeinab Adam said, “The voices of young people should be amplified, and we are excited that one of our brightest will engage in this critical dialogue at such a high level with important stakeholders. At the core of our mandate is to support children and young people to develop and thrive in life, promote their voices and be agents of change. Siatra is that voice.”
In addition, as part of the Africa-EU Business Forum, UNICEF is hosting “Digital innovative solutions for youth empowerment and sustainable growth in Africa”, with partners including GenU, Microsoft, Goodwall, GIZ and European Investment Bank.
U-Report is an innovative platform developed by UNICEF to engage young people and share their voices and opinions. Zimbabwe has over 250,000 U-Reporters who actively engage in opinion polls and SMS-based conversations. You can join U-Report for free by texting, “Join” to 33500.