Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, says the youth continue to endure the brunt of structural inequalities that manifest in violent ways.
“The devastation brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our livelihoods and social mobility. We have also been faced with challenges of widespread unrest, increasing youth unemployment, raging fires in the Western Cape, the flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, and the second pandemic of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF),” Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The Minister was speaking at the launch of Youth Month in Soweto on Thursday.
The Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, launched this year’s Youth Month, which marks 46 years since the June 16 student uprising of 1976.
Youth Month 2022 is commemorated under the theme, “Promoting sustainable livelihoods and resilience of young people for a better tomorrow”.
This year’s Youth Month campaign seeks to highlight challenges faced by the youth, present possible solutions through dialogues, as well as to showcase opportunities available for the youth.
The launch started at Morris Isaacson High School, which was then followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Hector Peterson Memorial.
Nkoana-Mashabane said Youth Month is dedicated exclusively to issues affecting the youth of South Africa, including but not limited to unemployment, GBVF and mental health.
She underscored the need to harness the potential of the country’s youthful population.
“This includes the political will by government and captains of industry to ensure an integration of youth across all strategic sectors of our society, especially the economy,” the Minister said.
Nkoana-Mashabane said that over the next four weeks, government will be involved in a number of events and dialogues with the youth to honour the sacrifices of the 1976 youth, while charting a path forward to tackle the present-day challenges facing them.
NYDA executive chairperson, Asanda Luwaca, said youth empowerment requires collective responsibility, and to achieve that, all sectors must report on their programmes incorporating youth development.
“I am strongly of the view that we no longer, as a country, have the luxury to just talk about youth development but have the collective responsibility to make sure that it is tangible,” Luwaca said.
The 2022 Youth Day celebration will be held in the Eastern Cape on 16 June 2022, where President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address.