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COMMENTARY: Gender justice as a catalyst for youth development

By Felicia Browne

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Felicia Browne

On September 30th, 2014, the Caribbean region celebrated Caribbean Youth Day. The theme “Embracing Technology to promote innovative and sustainably conscious” presented a forum by which youth across the region were able to voice their concerns on a number of issues that affect their daily lives.

Some of their concerns included unemployment, limited career opportunities, lack of community programs, and the violation of their civic and human rights. The Caribbean, as a whole, is beginning to understand the impact of youth development within their respective societies. Many are of the view that there is a close correlation between youth development and nation-building.

As a result, youth development and capacity building for Caribbean youth have become an integral aspect for policy-makers. Notwithstanding, many nations are thus concerned with the increasing levels of crime that continue to hinder their ability as citizens.

Felicia Browne, Human and Gender Justice Advocate notes that, “our young persons have seen, and experienced some of the most tragic events in their young lives. We should be that our youth are vulnerable to some of the actions that we as adult commit.

For instance, within weeks apart, two female students were brutally murdered near their communities- Shante Claxton (15yrs, St. Kitts and Nevis) and Aleisha Brown (13yrs, Trelawy, Jamaica). The death of Aleisha Brown is devastating to her loved ones, her colleagues and community on a whole. The call to end violence against girls must be seen as a violation against humanity. Additionally, the increase in child sexual abuse – in particular rape and incest, should signal that we should educate our girls and boys on their rights as human beings and citizens.”

The UNICEF and other children’s rights organizations have continued to advocate and educate various nations on the rights of children. These rights are to be recognized universally to protect children and youth. It is also the responsibility of regional nations to implement effective policies that will curb the level of violence that specifically targets young girls. One such approach is by implementing human rights programs in schools’ curriculum. This can provide them with the knowledge of their rights and procedures to take when such rights are being violated.
Browne observes that as developing societies, we should engage youth on policies that have direct effects on their lives and development. She insists that “we have too many of our youth are unaware of their rights and what they should do when their rights are violated.

Many female victims are still blamed when they are raped. We need a paradigm shift in which girls are seen as human beings, and not as sexual objects. We need to also educate our boys to protect our girls; and conversely. Mentoring programs are also an effective alternative to teach our youth on how to care, and be responsible for each other.”

Felicia Browne is a Human and Gender Rights Advocate /Peace Ambassador for the Caribbean Region

 

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