The Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane recently led the South Africa’s youth delegation to the BRICS Meeting of Ministers and Heads of Executive Authorities Responsible for youth. Russia as the current chair of the BRICS Group, hosted the Summit and Ministers’ meeting from the 29th of November to the 01st of December 2020. The summit was hosted under the theme ““BRICS: Challenges of the Time for the Youth.”
The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities said in a statement that the 2020 BRICS Youth Summit and the Ministers’ meeting took place in a very unprecedented time for the world, as the whole world is currently impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen millions of people infected and affected in many ways. Despite the challenges faced by the world, the Youth Summit and Ministers’ meeting were held for the first time in a hybrid fashion physically and through online platforms. This proves once again that the pandemic does not only shape, but also transforms the international agenda.
It said that the objective of the Youth Summit was to create space for BRICS youth to engage on policies and programmes that seek to address young people’s challenges and empower them; and to promote exchange of experiences, whilst enhancing solidarity between delegates and stakeholders. The Ministers’ meeting was intended to adopt the outcome document of the Summit and show political commitment on implementation of the resolutions.
The meeting was attended mainly by young delegates from diverse sectors, NYDA CEO supported by staff members, and the Ministers supported by staff members from the department. The Minister delivered an opening and closing address at the meeting.
South Africa’s priorities for the BRICS youth cooperation are:
Advancing skills revolution for our youth by promoting capabilities in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) areas;
Creating employment in areas with high absorption capacity such as The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Ocean Economy, Green Economy, Mineral Resources and Energy, Tourism, Manufacturing etc.;
Supporting young entrepreneurs;
Promoting market access as well as free and fair trade amongst the BRICS nations; and
Youth Volunteer exchange promotion.
During the 6th BRICS Youth Summit participants discussed matters on the current state and prospects for the further development of BRICS youth in areas such as volunteering, creative industries, official and public diplomacy, youth energy cooperation, and youth entrepreneurship and innovations.
Some of the key resolutions taken, emanated from the various discussions, at the 6th BRICS Youth Summit is to enhance cooperation amongst the BRICS countries by supporting the youth volunteer movement including corporate volunteering; foster patriotism; strengthen friendly and cultural relations; and strengthen professional ties based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.
In order to achieve all these, a Volunteer Council will be established. The support for establishment of the BRICS Secretariat proposed by South Africa was also reaffirmed.
The need to lobby for funding for youth owned enterprises, and education opportunities aimed at eradicating unemployment to youth from the New Development Bank was emphasized. This is critical as the BRICS nations endeavour to accelerate implementation of recovery plans as a redress measure to advance empowerment of the general youth population, young women, adolescent, youth with disabilities, particularly those residing in rural areas.
“As we accelerate socio-economic empowerment of our youth, we must continue to foster the spirit of volunteerism between the youth of the BRICS nations. In this regard, we must introduce volunteer exchange programmes for our youth, targeting young women, young diplomats, young academics, and students,” said Nkoana-Mashabane.
The Summit takes place as the department concludes Disability Rights Awareness Month and is currently observing 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children.