By Halimatou Ceesay
The United Nations National Regional Director for West and Central Africa, Mabingue Ngom, has told young people during the opening of the Consultation on Islam, Family Wellbeing and Traditional Practices that his organisation would make a point of prioritising youth issues by not only giving attention to their views but also making effort to address them.
He made this remark at Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi before a gathering of 350 including Muslim leaders and Islamic Scholars as well as young people from The Gambia and the sub-region.
“To the young people in and out of this hall,’ Mr Ngom stated, ‘we will listen to you and we will hear you. We won’t stop there but we will take action by putting you first in order to fulfil the commitments set out in the Agenda 2063 and to attain long term benefits by harnessing the Demographic Dividend.”
Mr Ngom further gave the assurance that the UNFPA-UNICEF partnership that brought about the consultation would continue to support The Gambia government “in addressing the empowerment of women, children and young people.” He went on to thank the Muslim religious leaders for accepting what he termed their “genuine call for partnership for the ultimate benefit of our people based on the teachings of Islam.” He also assured the religious leaders of UNFPA-UNICEF partnership’s readiness to support them in their endeavours to engage the population to address the issues that constituted the consultation’s focus.
UNFPA boss said “Over the next three days we expect to see a healthy discourse leading to a concrete agenda for action and declaration that will serve as game change for girls, women and young people not only in The Gambia but across all countries in the Sahel. We have reached the point where we have done all the talking and now need to initiate actions. Let us engage and bring young people to the table by putting them first because the Africa we want by 2063 cannot be achieved without genuine investments in the young people.”