A New Mindset Arising
Young Africans don't want to be seen as charity receivers any longer. They want to act themselves.
Did you know that children and youths account for around 70 per cent of the population in developing countries? So when we talk about strengthening human rights in developing countries, we are also talking about empowering the coming generation in particular. This is why supporting and strengthening children and youths is an essential component of the Millennium Development Goals.
To really reach young people with our German Development Cooperation projects and measures, we don't simply talk about them; we talk with them. And most importantly: we listen to them.
This issue offers two examples of this dialogue process – one on UNICEF's global dialogue campaign "World We Want" that explores the priorities of young people around the globe by asking how they imagine their world will be after 2015. We coordinated the project and polled young people here in Germany. A few days ago some of the German participants presented their designs for life in future. The results of this global conversation have been compiled worldwide and will be presented by the UN in the autumn. The former Federal President Horst Köhler will represent Germany here, supported by two young people who participated in the study.
The second example is also quite recent. A few weeks ago the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) organized a Future Forum entitled "Youth in Africa – a new mind-set arising?" I enjoyed many stimulating conversations with young people from Africa at the event. Two comments made a particular impression on me: "We don't want to rely on the West. We are the solutions to our problems", and "We want to be in charge of our images and want to define who we are –finally!" This is how two young African artists formulated their expectations of the West. Many young African entrepreneurs and a vibrant creative scene are very involved in moving solutions to social problems and Africa's economic development forward in decisive steps. They have already achieved a great deal: implemented innovation, built up companies and created jobs for others – which is how small and medium-sized businesses can become a powerhouse for driving growth and employment.
Political participation is an important element of democracy. Political participation means that all social forces and interests are equally involved in political decision-making processes – including young people in particular
DDD has been listening as well and has brought together a colourful mix of topics and issues that are moving and inspiring young people around the globe. This issue does not just deal with youth in Africa, but also with many aspects of daily life for young people worldwide. The articles explore values, lifestyles and subcultures and even cover such distressing topics as the social reintegration of child soldiers.
I hope you enjoy this latest issue of DDD.