We are looking for Commonwealth citizens to share their views ahead of the 2024 Heads of Government Meeting. Sign up to take part

Location: Botswana

Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment


The Southern African region (SADC) has a large youth population and low levels of decent employment for its youth, resulting in high levels of youth unemployment and underemployment. The lack of formal employment, irregularity of work and social protection means that youth in the SADC region face poverty and inequality.

Researchers have described the effect of this insecurity on youth as a ‘transitional limbo’. Without a secure income, young people are unable to meet their social roles that accompany adulthood. These challenges are compounded by a lack of credible information and a lack of mobilisation around youth employment. Youth voices in designing and implementing prevalent national and regional youth employment strategies and policies has been limited.


The Southern African Alliance for Youth Employment (SAAYE) was formally established in February 2016 by the Economic Justice Network with the Commonwealth Foundation’s support. The Alliance is made up of representatives from trade unions, church councils, student unions, and civil society organisations across nine Southern African nations. Trade unions, churches and the civil society organisations, cumulatively have considerable potential power to determine the shape of policy for youth employment in Southern Africa.

The Economic Justice Network (EJN) performs as the Secretariat of SAAYE. SAAYE aims to play a coordinating and facilitating role for youth formations to inform and influence public discourse about youth employment; contribute to reforming employment and youth related policy; and, to hold governments accountable to their commitments to address youth unemployment across the SADC region – both nationally and regionally.

The Commonwealth Foundation’s capacity development approach has facilitated training, engagement and development of structures within the Alliance. A six member Working Group serves as the highest decision-making body of SAAYE. They also represent the Alliance at events such as the SADC-CNGO Civil Society Forum and to plan regional actions.

Reforming colonial-era mental health legislation


The need to improve the legislation that covers mental ill health in Commonwealth countries is growing more and more pressing as the prevalence of mental ill health increases worldwide.

National Mental Health Advisory Committee SeychellesProject

The Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation (CNMF) is updating mental health legislation in Botswana and Seychelles to bring them in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disability. Botswana and Seychelles will be the first Commonwealth countries to see their mental health laws brought in line with the UN Convention, and will see the CNMF work to establish the support structures that will build thorough and inclusive mental health provisions.

The two implementation countries were selected due to the existing strong base of networks in place, upon which the CNF will be able to build and develop their work. The project will either support an existing national mental health advocacy group – or establish a new one, if necessary – bringing together people with mental ill health, carers, medical health professionals and policy officials, to pool their experience and collectively develop solutions.

These groups will provide valuable forums to make sure that legislation is formed from the right information and the right people. The Commonwealth Nurses Federation will oversee the project, providing technical support to the groups and working to ensure the sustainability of the positive outcomes produced by the project.

With mental ill health predicted to be the world’s greatest health burden by 2030, this project is supporting the efforts to drive down the stigma, discrimination and marginalisation suffered by people with mental ill health and make treatment and care accessible to all.

Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation

The Commonwealth Nurses and Midwives Federation (CNMF), founded in 1973, is a federation of national nursing and midwifery associations in Commonwealth countries.

The CNMF has regular and constructive contact with major Commonwealth bodies in London including the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation. The CNMF is an accredited Commonwealth body, which allows involvement in annual Health Ministers’ meetings, the biennial Commonwealth Peoples Forum held prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting and other Commonwealth meetings such as the civil society consultations.