Ghana becomes the 20th Lead Country of the YEN in September 2008
Advocacy efforts from youth groups are the impetus. Emmanuel Korbla Edudzie, Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), tells his story.
"YEN presents a worthwhile opportunity for the Government of Ghana to expand on current and previous youth employment efforts by undertaking a comprehensive review of the sector, establishing a national consultative mechanism, and developing a National Action Plan for youth employment. This was the argument I presented to the Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment in 2004.
As a young person, I was convinced that leading a progressive advocacy campaign will be the best strategy for ensuring that Ghana joins YEN as a lead country. Our advocacy tools were as varied as the changes in ministerial portfolios and cabinet reshuffles, which would become the biggest impediment to our quest. The first bold step by government to take up the challenge of joining YEN was in 2006, when a meeting was convened with youth leaders, representatives from the National Youth Council and the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment. This meeting provided me the opportunity to present the YEN and to make the case for Ghana's accession. Unfortunately, by the time the committee held its first meeting, a ministerial reshuffle was announced.
In February 2007, our advocacy campaign saw some fresh impetus when the UN Resident Coordinator appointed a YEN Focal Person within the UNDP, and provided budgetary allocation to support the start-up phase of the process. At government level, the new Ministers responsible for youth employment, Hon. Nana Akomea and Hon. Frema Opare welcomed the news of fresh support for Ghanas YEN efforts and immediately designated a focal person to liaise with the UNDP.
Within a few weeks, a substantive steering committee was established, which developed a road map for Ghanas enlistment as a YEN lead country. Among others, the committee has conducted a YEN Consultative meeting attended by Ministers, UN agencies, DFID, youth organisations and NGOs. Based on the outcomes of the consultative meeting, a joint ministerial letter was sent to formally express Ghana's intention to join YEN. This is the first major step in becoming a YEN lead country and I was very instrumental in doing so.
Undoubtedly, advocacy works. Four years of advocacy for youth employment has been rewarded. But the best reward will come when Ghana finally completes the development of its comprehensive national action plan for youth employment, with active and effective participation of young people and their organisations."
Emmanuel Korbla Edudzie is a young activist leading the quest for effective youth participation in Ghana's development agenda. He holds an MA in Governance and Sustainable Development from the University of Cape Coast, and currently works as Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES-Ghana), Ghana's foremost and most extensive youth-led development organisation. Mr. Edudzie has also consulted for some UN agencies and international development organisations in various capacities on various development projects.