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Ethiopia’s International Youth Day celebrations

This year, activities to celebrate International Youth Day in Ethiopia took a creative approach to inspire young people to become active changemakers – from entrepreneurs sharing their success stories, to young artists creating vivid murals on the power of youth to change their world.

Oxfam in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee (HAVOYOCO) and the Bureau of Youth and Sports joined hands to celebrate International Youth Day in August 2019.

Youth inspiring youth

In Shashemene in Oromia region, an event on the theme of ‘Open Doors of Opportunity’ sparked discussions on how to actively engage youth in making positive changes in their lives and communities. Youth role models played a key role in delivering this message, with several young entrepreneurs sharing their inspiring stories. In line with the #IWasThere campaign, young participants were encouraged to follow their dreams and seek the right opportunities to achieve change.

‘‘It is high time for youth to lead and work towards the transforming efforts of the country.’’
Eyob Genise, Arsi Zone’s Women, Children and Youth Affairs representative

Putting young people in the picture

Unique to this year’s International Youth Day celebrations were displays of street art in the towns of Jigjiga and Shashemene in Somali region. Local artists decorated previously vandalized walls with lively murals on International Youth Day themes including ‘Transforming Youth Education’. In Jigjiga, one local artist depicted a scene, featuring a schoolgirl, that manages to convey the creation of an enabling environment free from gender-based violence. The artist transformed a wall covered with offensive scrawls into an eye-catching and inspiring piece.

Making our voices heard

The various activities not only highlighted the many challenges that young people face in their daily lives, but also offered solutions. The events brought together EYW youth, traditional and religious leaders, members of school clubs, youth associations, private sector representatives and EYW project staff. This diverse representation of stakeholders ensured that youth voices were heard by influential people, breaking down intergenerational barriers and emphasizing young people’s role in creating a better future.

“Celebrating International Youth Day is a means for awareness creation on the role and contribution of youths towards development, peace and good governance.’’
Ibrahim Abdikader Abdille, Somali regional state Youth and Sport Office deputy head