Young leaders from the Commonwealth have taken centre-stage to advocate their rights in shaping the future of the family of nations and set out an action-oriented plan to address the social, economic, and climate challenges.
Held alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2022, the Youth Forum kicked off on 19 June and represents a unique opportunity for young leaders to bring policy recommendations to their governments and assert their role in shaping the future of the Commonwealth.
This year’s forum focuses on the adverse impacts of climate change, conflict, and COVID-19 – which disproportionately hit younger generations by cutting employment training and education opportunities as approximately 60 per cent of the unemployed in Commonwealth countries is already made up by young people.
The forum will also address thematic areas such as governance and the rule of law, technology, skills, innovation, sustainability, healthcare and trade. It will also include the launch of an historic collaboration between the Commonwealth and the world’s largest youth organisations to create the ‘Commonwealth Alliance for Quality Youth Leadership’.
During the plenary on 20 June, the forum delved deeper into innovation, skills development, and cancer elimination – with the launch of the A4HPV, a taskforce under the Commonwealth Youth Health Network focused on advocating for action towards cervical cancer elimination.
“We’ve heard that cervical cancer takes the life of one woman in the Commonwealth every three minutes,” said Prof Marion Saville, a pathologist and the Executive Director of VCS Foundation Ltd.
“For each of these deaths there is usually financial and social catastrophe for the woman’s family and often for the community, often children are left without their mother. I call on young people to demand access to the vaccines.”
During the launch, the network distributed cloth bags – sewn and designed by women who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 – with self-sampling swab, to demonstrate that testing of HPV can be less invasive and less uncomfortable for women when simple innovations like self-sampling is adopted.
The Youth Forum will culminate on 21 June with the release of the Youth Declaration to Heads of Government and the installation of the new Commonwealth Youth Council.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat