SA highlights need for youth volunteer exchange programmes

Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has called for the introduction of volunteer exchange programmes for youth.

She called for the programmes to target young women, young diplomats, young academics and students.

“As we accelerate socio-economic empowerment of our youth, we must continue to foster the spirit of volunteerism between the youth of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) nations,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

The Minister was speaking at the 6th BRICS Meeting of Ministers and Heads of Executive Authorities Responsible for youth, held in Russia.

Russia as the current chair of BRICS Group hosted the Summit and Ministers’ meeting from 29 November to 01 December 2020 under the theme “BRICS: Challenges of the Time for the Youth.”

The 2020 BRICS Youth Summit and the Ministers’ meeting took place in a very unprecedented time for the world, as the whole world is impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw millions of people infected and affected in many ways.

The summit aimed 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 the exchange of experiences, whilst enhancing solidarity between delegates and stakeholders.

The Ministers’ meeting also intended to adopt the outcome document of the Summit and show political commitment on the implementation of the resolutions.

The meeting was attended mainly by young delegates from diverse sectors, including the National Youth Development Agency CEO supported by staff members, and the Minister supported by staff members from the department.

South Africa’s priorities for 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.

Among the issues discussed during the summit included 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 include enhancing cooperation amongst the BRICS countries by supporting the youth volunteer movement including corporate volunteering; fostering patriotism; strengthening friendly and cultural relations; and strengthening professional ties based on the principles of equality and mutual respect.

Establishment of BRICS Secretariat

In order to achieve all these, a Volunteer Council will be established and the support for the establishment of the BRICS Secretariat proposed by South Africa was also reaffirmed.

The need to lobby for funding for youth-owned enterprises and educational opportunities aimed at eradicating unemployment to youth from the New Development Bank was emphasized.

This is critical as the BRICS nations endeavour to accelerate the implementation of recovery plans as a redress measure to advance the empowerment of the general youth population, young women, adolescent, youth with disabilities, particularly those residing in rural areas.

The summit took place as the department concludes Disability Rights Awareness Month, and is currently observing 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children. – SAnews.gov.za

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