Convened under the theme, ‘Galvanizing the role of youth in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)’, the 10th GIMAC Youth Advocacy Training sought to enhance knowledge and capacity of youth to engage with AfCFTA and the Maputo Protocol.
The training which took place on 13 July 2023 in Nairobi, Kenya, brought together approximately one hundred young women from various parts of the continent. Dr Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, former African Union (AU) Goodwill Ambassador on Ending Child Marriage, Executive Director, Rozaria Memorial Trust, and GIMAC Thematic Co-lead for Young Women; Dr Thelma Awori, GIMAC Network Thematic Lead; and Dr Amany Asfour, President of Africa Business Council and 2023 GIMAC Network Thematic Lead, co-facilitated the training.
The experts Dr Gumbonzvand; Dr Awori; and Dr Asfour unpacked the AfCFTA and discussed how it relates to more than just the economic aspect of the lives of the youth, and they were able to share their knowledge on the interconnection with peace and security; human rights; health; education; as well as governance in the area of trade. The platform allowed for the young women to discuss vulnerable issues such as, limitations to access basic services; being used as weapons of war; and harassment across borders. Engagement with these young women in the formulation of solutions to these problems forms a crucial link to the forefront of advocacy on young women inclusion in the implementation of AfCFTA as the AU, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), and Member States continue in its efforts towards mainstreaming gender equality in the Agenda 2063.
Infringement of human rights; sexual exploitation; lack of access to markets; and the lack of information in existing policies were discussed as the key challenges. The training programme thus covered various sessions that included discussions on AfCFTA and women rights; accelerating education; digital technology; financial and economic inclusion of women and youth; as well as region specific opportunities for youth and women in the AfCFTA. A key recommendation from the training was the need to include youth in all consultations involving the newly developed AfCFTA Protocol on women and youth. The training provided further information on how young people can be directly and indirectly involved in the AfCFTA implementation at regional, national and grassroots levels. The expertise, skills, creativity, and innovation that young people possess, are key in ensuring the effective implementation of ACFTA. The recommendations drafted during the training were presented at the 5th GIMAC AU, RECs Coordination meeting.