On Friday the 22nd of January, President Arthur Peter Mutharika chaired the first ever Youth Conference which took place at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, where he also launched the Youth Status Report.
Mutharika urged that there is need to invest in the youth as well as empower them for the country to move forward, as the youth constitutes of 80% of Malawi’s total population, otherwise Malawi should be ready to pay.
Adding on, he emphasized how the government has always acknowledged the presence of the younger population, as it has introduced community colleges which are helping in imparting various skills in the youth.
“Through the community colleges, the youth will be imparted with skills; quality skills help in improving development as it is the only sustainable way of poverty eradication because through it we can move Malawi from a third world country to a first world country.” He further stated.
In a nutshell, he appealed to all Malawians to change their mindset towards the youth and remove the challenges that the youth face because their capabilities are not recognized. Also, he said that there is need to economically support these youth after imparting them with various skills so as to help them to establish investments.
Among other guests, was the United Nations Resident Coordinator Mia Seppo, who concurred with Mutharika saying the pinnacle of Malawi’s development is youth empowerment.
Adding on to Mutharika’s statement, she said that the UN understands that Malawi’s population is mainly constituted of the youth and they are confronted with a multiplicity of development challenges, in the areas of education, health, employment, entrepreneurship, gender equality and women empowerment, human rights and HIV/AIDS.
According to Seppo, the girl child is the most challenged as evidenced by the high rates of child marriage.
“For instance, 50 percent of girls are married before their 19th birthday. Teenage pregnancy is very high and school dropout rates for girls is also high,” she noted
On access to employment she said, 130,000 enter the job market each year but the formal sector is unable to create jobs at a rate sufficient to absorb these entrants, and only 14 per cent are in white collar jobs at a rate sufficient to absorb these entrants.
The National Youth Conference which was held under the theme; ‘Youth development and empowerment, key to transforming Malawi and beyond,’ attracted a mass of youth from across the country.