Primrose was in Dakar, Senegal in October this year, as a main panelist, representing the African Youth and Voice at the Africa Community of Practice annual meeting, reflecting on major successes and lessons from Youth for Results (Y4R) a cluster of AfCoP she has been a member of since 2013.
I am unsure why I wore pink on the day, a colour vaguely associated with the magnitude of the meeting. It was not made better by the fact that I was in an all-male panel, and all my co-panellists chose to wear black suits. To give myself reassurance, I told myself on stage, that my dress, brought the colour and vibrancy of youth, female power!
After all the future is young, female and restless!
The following continued to hum in my head as I took the stage, speaking on behalf of all young people and women from Africa:
“Pink is the new black!”
Let me rewind a little and get you up to speed with this technical, jargony space! Youth for Results (Y4R) was established in 2013 as part of Africa Community of Practice (AfCOP), together with the Gender for Results and Natural Resources Management cluster. They were set up to catalyse women and young people’s engagement in addressing unemployment, gender inequality and climate change challenges in Africa.
The thematic groups have evolved and grown, connecting young people, women from civil society, business and the private sector in 21 AfCoP countries in Africa through collaboration on AfCoP activities, sharing and learning.
The big wins
One of the biggest successes I shared, was the technical capacity gained by Y4R on Managing for Development Results and the Rapid Results Initiative after trainings by AfCoP.
We were also supported to attend all the AfCoP Annual General Meetings in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal, enhancing our skills in MFDR and its collective application to foster a culture of results and transformative change in Africa.
We led online sessions on the AfCoP Website on topical issues related to Youth and Women in Africa covering topics such as Accountability and Partnership for results in Africa, Gender and Youth Priorities for the post-2015 agenda, Leadership building for Africa’s development, and Youth Entrepreneurship and the role of governments.
We also developed knowledge briefs, products and guidelines for achieving greater results in Africa such as the Guide for Trade facilitation for women in the UEMOA region with practical guidelines for supporting business environments. Multiple Y4R members led activities with their CoPs and out of their own initiative.
The Big Lessons
If the African continent invests in her young people and women, she will progress in transformative development and change. Drawing from the engagement of young people and women in AfCoP I learnt that our collective commitment, expertise and unity of purpose led to huge success in our efforts. I also noted how young people and women will use what is within their reach, to achieve results in Africa; although a lot can still be done to tap into their potential. Dialogue, building trust and bridging the gap between country chapters of AfCOP and young people yielded positive results (Kenya-was exceptional in their approach leading to deeper integration of Youth in their national efforts). Lastly, if bureaucracy and the culture of working in silos is broken, especially in countries, more can be achieved in partnership with young people and women.
John Armah and Y4R team in Ghana did not wait to get money from their CoP or from government to activate MfDR. They streamlined focus on solving unemployment challenges facing young people, through tapping into alternative sources of funding outside AfCoP and the government. They established the entrepreneurship fund called NEIP, Asheshi MasterCard Foundation and a fund for women entrepreneurs in Lawra, one of the poorest districts in Ghana. They provided training and capital to over 50 businesses including an investment worth 150k USD to Health-lane Pharmacy and Influenced policies in Ghana on employment creation initiatives, budget monitoring, and Increased decentralisation of youth interventions and advocacy at the grassroots levels.
Females running the world!
Mrs Akapo Adjoa Thérèse, current coordinator of G4R founded an NGO called LA COLOMBE in Togo. In Togo, domestic responsibilities such as the care of children, elderly and sick family members prevent many women from seeking a job or starting a business. Moreover, Togo’s World Bank’s country report revealed last year that women lack economic opportunities and are underrepresented in high-level positions. Only very few public and private enterprises are run by women.
Thérèse did not just sit back but set up her NGO targeting rural women and girls with a number of emancipation projects. This included a focus on training and apprenticeship, water and sanitation, climatic resilience, environmental education and tackling gender based violence and other forms of abuse against women.
In 2019, Thérèse created “Fiosrons” (village chief’s wives), a movement to defend the rights of women and girls in the communities. Due to her outstanding contributions towards female empowerment, she was awarded Winner of WWSF (Women World Summit Foundation) 2019 for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life. This was due to her social commitment, concern for the future of young girls in rural areas and innovation in its shares.
Primrose Nanchani Manyalo is the Senior Youth Collective Manager at Restless Development. She is in the Restless Development Strategy Leadership team managing the Global We Lead Project in MENA, Africa and Central America and the Global Youth Collective with over 4000 youth civil society organisations from 187+ countries. Primrose sits in the Global Steering Committee for Youth for Our Planet, a global movement for climate action. She is passionate youth leadership, using a power-shifting approach. She has a strong track record in building and managing networks, governance, campaigning, advocacy policy shaping and practice. She also has operational and strategic experience at the international, regional and national levels focusing on governance, human rights, sexual and reproductive justice, climate change, education, livelihoods and racial justice.