Youth Members of Parliament have criticized government’s decision to postpone the celebration of the International Youth Day from 12th to 26th August.

The United Nations General Assembly declared every 12th August as the International Youth Day on 17th December 1999 in recognition of the numerical strength of the young people and their potential to contribute towards social transformation.

The day is used to promote awareness and draw attention to youth issues in the world and also for governments to evaluate the different policies, programs and interventions put up to empower youth.

Now, under their umbrella group, the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs, MPs say that the decision by the government to postpone activities to celebrate this day indicates that less attention is given to youth matters.

Led by their Chairperson, Boniface Okot, the Youth representative for Northern region, the MPs demanded for an apology from the government for its failure to celebrate youth, whom they described as the country’s important resource.

This week, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi informed Parliament about the postponement of the International Youth Day celebrations which had been scheduled for Friday, at Kaunda Grounds in Gulu City.

“We regret the postponement of the youth day and promise that it will not happen again,” Amongi told parliament without indicating the reasons for the postponement.

“During the week prior to the event, various activities will take place. These include a National Dialogue, Tree planting, Games and Sports activities, Community work, Blood donations, Voluntary Counseling and Testing, Cancer Screening and Exhibitions.”

The theme for this year’s commemoration is Intergenerational Solidarity: The role of the youth in the implementation of the Parish development Model.

Amongi said that the chosen theme was a reminder to all young people that the exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms are inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, saying that youth must strive to create a world in which all persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life.

But Okot says that there is need to address different challenges facing youth in the country like unemployment, limited structured government support programs and policies, among others that can help transform societies.

Aisha Agaba, the Bugangaizi East MP also said that government needs to use this year’s youth day to provide more skills to young people by setting up more technical institutions in different regions across the country.

In its new data on challenges and opportunities for young Ugandans in starting and running businesses, research body Twaweza says that young Ugandans are less likely to own businesses than older citizens.

It says that four out of ten (41 percent) of the citizens under 35 years have owned a business in the previous five years, compared to five out of ten (51 percent) older citizens. The same data indicates that fewer young citizens (18 percent) than older citizens (25 percent) currently own a business.

The findings released by Twaweza to mark the International Youth Day are based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey.

The findings are based on data collected from 1,597 young people (aged 18 to 34 years) and 2,900 respondents across Uganda between January 15th and February 7th, 2022.

Marie Nanyanzi, the Senior Program Officer at Twaweza says that despite this, young people are confident about their financial skills with 8 out of 10 young Ugandans (79 percent) agreeing that they can manage financial records.

She added that among 2,900 young people, they found that 87 percent of them if provided with 3.5 million Shillings would start up a business.

According to Nanyanzi, 66 percent of them indicated that they would use the money to invest in farm activities, 32 percent in buying land and only 6 percent did not know what to use the money for.

Nanyanzi says that this research clearly shows many young people are quite enterprising and only access to capital is stopping them.

Nanyanzi also says that in their research they found out that even though young people are aware of different poverty alleviation programs like emyooga and youth livelihood programs, only 7 percent have participated in them.

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