Representatives from Global Peace Foundation (GPF) highlighted peacebuilding efforts in East Africa at the 2021 Regional Consultative Forum on Youth, Peace, and Security held in Nairobi, Kenya in December. The forum’s main host, Horn of Africa Youth Network (HoAYN), is a regional network of organizations that is working to foster sustainable, equitable, and youth-led development in the East Africa Region. Countries including Tanzania, Ghana, Djibouti, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Republic of Kenya, Uganda, and Burkina Faso, met to discuss the role of youth in peace and security under the theme, “Lasting Peace: Leveraging the Power of Youth for Peace and Security.”
Sylvia Mkomwa, a representative from GPF Tanzania, provided opening remarks at the forum, calling for member states to give youth a greater voice in decision making at the local, national, regional, and international levels and to consider setting up mechanisms that would enable young people to participate meaningfully in peacebuilding processes.
As a panelist for the three-day convening, Sylvia shared her insights on the voices of youth in the implementation of the UN resolution 2250, saying that youth play a key role in promoting the peace and security agenda. She emphasized that young people should not be viewed as just victims or perpetrators of war but rather as change-makers who need to be involved in all peacebuilding initiatives.
GPF Tanzania’s ongoing ventures are a testament to the powerful influence youth leaders have in transforming communities in the East Africa region and around the world. Projects like the One Family under God campaign and the Vijana Na Amani (“Youth for Peace” in Swahili) campaign that began in 2016 focus on raising diverse leaders with the skills to bridge tribal, national, and religious divides. Targeting primarily the youth of Tanzania, who make up 60% of the population, the Vijana Na Amani peace campaign seeks to counter the negative trend of radicalization through education, sensitization and leadership, and entrepreneurship capacity building.
Youth have a powerful and necessary role in building peace and security.