ONE Champion Stephanie Kusa shares some key takeaways from a special webinar hosted by fellow champions on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
Every year, the world marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October. To commemorate this day, ONE Champions from Nigeria, Kenya, and Ethiopia collaborated to host a webinar. They focused on the progress made in Sustainable Development Goal 1 (SDG 1) which is one of the 17 goals established by the United Nations in 2015 calling for the end of poverty in all forms. The champions discussed this topic under the areas of health, governance, youth economic empowerment, and gender equality.
Here are some of the thoughts shared by the panel.
On youth economic empowerment
According to the United Nations, 226 million young people aged 15-24 living in Africa by 2015 represented nearly 20% of Africa’s population, making up one fifth of the world’s youth population. Merryl Omondi shared that this shows that the youth are Africa’s greatest resource, which should and must be harnessed towards meeting sustainable development goals.
On gender equality
The panel also noted that gender equality is paramount in reducing inequalities. The COVID-19 pandemic risks rolling back women’s rights and economic gains in ways unseen for decades. Gender-based violence increased at an alarming rate during the pandemic which comes with a myriad of effects from mental health, financial constraints to stigma. For instance 55% of women reported income loss compared with 34% of their male counterparts in the wake of COVID 19 pandemic according to a Global Rapid Gender analysis report, “She Told Us So” by CARE International in September. Efforts in pandemic recovery will need to also focus on gender to get back on track to the goals for 2030.
Daniel Ugwu addressed the issue of accountability of governments and stated that African youth should leverage on the power of unity and address issues facing the continent as a united front. They have the power to demand change through the ballot. Transparency in government procurement and spending, particularly during COVID-19 pandemic, should be demanded.
Youth should also leverage the power of social media and other media platforms for advocacy.
On environmental justice
Climate change exacerbates poverty conditions around the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, since the region is the most vulnerable to climate change impact due to its geography. Daniel stated that there is an urgency for countries to contribute to ending poverty by adopting new economic models that are not entirely based on fossil fuel and are low carbon emission driven.
Since agriculture is the mainstay of the economy of most developing countries, Africa should adopt policies that promote sustainable agricultural practices like traditional agro-ecology and climate-smart practices for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and building resilience in the agricultural sector. Africa should strengthen the capacity of its youth to generate and develop innovative climate action ideas into bankable businesses to solve the youth unemployment crisis.
On healthcare and COVID-19
Lydia Tesfaye is a Medical Doctor in Ethiopia and noted that communities play an important role when it comes to strengthening the health systems. She stated that in, “Ethiopia for instance, youth are involved in improving the health system for maternal health at a very grassroots level. COVID-19 and Ebola have clearly shown the important role communities play in eradicating diseases in Africa.”
Participating ONE Champions walked away with a number of key points, including:
- For SDG1 to be achieved, other goals should be addressed first as it is dependent on their success.
- African governments should engage and include youth in public service.
- Youth in Africa should form a united front to those in positions of power on issues affecting them.
- Youth should be a focal point in strengthening health systems in Africa and are currently playing a vital part of the COVID-19 response.
- Young people have the opportunity to influence their governance systems through exercising their democratic rights.
- Agriculture remains the backbone of Africa’s economy, therefore smart climate solutions are a key opportunity to eradicate poverty.
- African governments should make public information and ease bureaucratic hurdles for transparency and accountability.