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.
In 2008, Southern Africa governments signed and adopted the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development, which integrates and mainstreams gender issues in the region. The Protocol is now under review.
Gender Links will enable civil society organisations from eight Southern Africa countries to work with the SADC Gender Unit and governments on drafting a revised Protocol on Gender and Development, and to follow up on its implementation. This will include gathering case studies on gender equality from civil society, local and national government in the region, and using the Citizens Score Card to gather citizen perspectives on progress made by their governments towards gender equality.
It is expected that by the end of the project, a new Protocol with civil society input will have been adopted by the Southern Africa Development Community. Civil society will also have acquired the necessary tools to track progress towards achieving gender equality in line with the new Post-2015 development framework.
Gender Links, South Africa
Gender Links works with partners at local, national and regional level to: produce evidence based research on gender gaps and progress in the SADC region and use it in advocacy efforts; promote gender equality in all areas of governance; foster a gender movement through coalition building; and, build capacity of civil society to engage in processes that advance gender equality and justice. Gender links coordinates an alliance of 15 national networks, comprising 40 organisations, and nine regional networks. Organisations from the alliance based in the eight target countries will be involved in country activities such as in the delivery of workshops, collation of a matrix of indicators and case studies.
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There are few opportunities to raise funds for Disability rights due to the gap that exists between young disabled people and their civil society organisations (CSOs) and local government.
The Association of Young Disabled People of Mozambique (AJODEMO) is raising its members’ capacity to help local government departments and officials improve how they implement domestic and international legislation designed to support them.
This includes ensuring that the rights and entitlements of young people are better understood, respected, and enforced, with AJODEMO taking the lead in developing and facilitating opportunities for structured engagement between community and local government stakeholders.
The government of Mozambique has shown its commitment towards improving conditions for its young disabled people by ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and adopting new pieces of domestic legislation.
With a specific focus on the provinces of Maputo and Gaza, AJODEMO is working with the support of the UK-based Disability and Development Partners (DDP) on projects to improve the lives of young disabled people. The project will enhance young disabled people’s ability to engage in the community by fostering dialogue and improved relations with local government, improve their economic prospects, and reduce the stigma and discrimination they face.
AJODEMO President, Cantol Pondja, explained, “We at AJODEMO firmly believe that this project with funding from the Commonwealth Foundation and DDP support has the potential to establish a new way for young disabled people and government officials and institutions to engage with each other for everybody’s benefit – particularly to give young disabled people better chances in life.”