Jamaica’s youth continue to distinguish themselves with their efforts to actively contribute to the decision-making process globally. This year was no different as members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Youth Advisory Committee, Mikiela Gonzales and Sujae Boswell, represented Jamaica at the 11th UNESCO Youth Forum and the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference, respectively.
Held in Paris, France, from November 12 to 27, this year’s conference allowed youth to share their suggestions on how UNESCO can better involve stakeholders “through its mandate in education, the sciences, culture and communication”.
The conference also provided the opportunity for youth leaders to showcase their efforts to implement projects geared towards improving engagement in their respective countries.
Jamaica is the only Caribbean country with a youth advisory committee.
Boswell attended the conference as a part of the Jamaican delegation headed by the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange. He participated in the Social and Human Sciences Commission meeting that played a hand in drafting UNESCO’s budget for 2022. Through his advocacy, Boswell was instrumental in forging a partnership with the Canadian delegation and the UNESCO Youth Advisory Committee.
Gonzales participated in the conference’s youth forum. As Jamaica’s representative, she presented on UNESCO’s involvement with youth locally. She was also given a platform to share her efforts to provide youth with an avenue to speak about controversial topics through the performing arts via her organisation, Creating Awareness through Revolutionary Entertainment (CARE).
Gonzales was also a participant in the Caribbean Forum and a panellist in the session, Youth in Motion: Building Young People’s Future in Small Island Developing States.
Subsequently, she was involved in the group that drafted the document that was presented at the General Conference. The proposals included:
• Advise the UNESCO Secretariat to have a youth observatory seat on the executive board.
• Invite the UNESCO director general to formulate a ‘Global Youth Advisory Group’ consisting of representatives globally.
• Advise member states to have at least one youth representative or a youth advisory group which informs decision-making processes within the UNESCO national commissions.
• Put in place monitoring and financial support mechanisms to ensure that young people are well represented in the development and implementation of UNESCO programmes.
• Provide platforms and tools for capacity building that allow UNESCO-affiliated young people to share experiences and knowledge with their peers, ensuring specific attention is given to marginalised and vulnerable groups.
Both Gonzales and Boswell aim to raise awareness of the mandate of UNESCO and share their experience with youth who are interested in making an impact locally.
“Empowerment means ensuring that young people are motivated and have the ability to seize and make the best of opportunities,” Boswell told The Sunday Gleaner.