On January 30 the British Broadcasting Corporation will hold a debate on Malawi’s youth situation. This monthly event, entitled “Africa’s Youth Population; An Opportunity or Risk?” will take place in Blantyre, the country’s capital. According to Innovations in Civic Participation (ICP), in 2012 Malawi ‘s population was estimated at 14.9 million with 7.9 percent of them being under 18 years of age. There are employment issues in the country that trickle down to their youth. Work shortages mean many youth are walking around looking for something to do. There is a concern of where circumstances may lead. Youth are unpredictable and the setting can turn out to be either an opportunity or a hazard.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is addressing one of the front running concerns of Malawi, The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) is focused on another. Working with the government, the UNPF has launched the first African national HIV/AIDS for condom use in Malawi. Entitled the Condomize! Campaign; the program has been put into effect to address the growing concern HIV in Africa. There are 12 African countries with extremely high rates of the virus. The Malawi government and its youth have expressed their desire to have the campaign. It has ben estimated that more than half of Malawians infected are under age 30. Some are concerned that the campaign will promote intercourse before marriage, like Justin Saidi, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports. He does not agree with the campaign because he believes in promoting abstinence. In this case, though, as some point out, many youth are already sexually active. Higher education students are the current target population of the campaign with the intention of eventually reaching a wider audience.
ICP expresses that there are several youth outlets available to assist youth with effectively utilizing their time. Accordingly, the site states Malawian youth have a higher rate of volunteerism and civic engagement than do the youth in other countries. Their areas of focus are on health, human rights, environment, gender equality and literacy along with caring for orphans and elders. There is a drive in Malawi to ensure its youth have direction and that outlets exist to assist them with moving forward. An expectation of the civic opportunities is to fill the gap of limited secondary education and employment issues. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) has reported transmission of HIV from mother to child has recently diminished considerably. Malawi is the lead country of this research; 12 other countries are following its lead. Today’s youth are tomorrow’s adults. Acquiring more awareness about HIV is a path to developing a plan for positive steps to reduce infection among youth. The BBC is achieving that purpose with its monthly radio program. The global broadcast expects to have over 100 participants attend the Malawi Youth Consultative Forum (YCF.) The audience call is for youth, leaders and others who are interested. The YCF has 30 seats reserved at the event and is requesting those interested in attending to inquire with an email to [email protected] by Jan. 5. Inquiries should include one’s contact information such as name, phone number, email, gender, age and profession in their self-description.
By Dada Ra