ISAF Public Affairs Office
Ministry of Information and Culture Hosts Conference on National Youth Policy
By Major Tyrell O. Mayfield
KABUL, Afghanistan (June 26, 2013) – During a National Youth Policy conference June 25, the Minister of Information and Culture, Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, welcomed the Deputy Minister for Youth Affairs, Mr. Taimoor Shah Eshaqzai and approximately four hundred participants to discuss Afghanistan’s National Youth Policy before it is presented to the Council of Ministers. Representatives from all provinces were invited to Kabul to participate in the conference.
The conference took place at the Radio Television Afghanistan offices in Kabul. Afghan media covered the large gathering of Afghan youth, Civil Society leaders, government officials and members of the international community who spent a full day discussing the policy. The National Youth Policy will serve as a legal guide for the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs to coordinate inter-ministerial support within the Government of Afghanistan for youth initiatives. The goal of the policy is to improve the outlook for Afghan youth in the areas of education, employment, health, countering radicalization and representation by government.
The development of a National Youth Policy is a major achievement for the Ministry of Information and Culture and for Mr. Eshaqzai, the Deputy Minister of Youth Affairs. Afghans under the age of 25 comprise over 65% of the country’s rapidly growing population, making them a critical demographic in efforts to bring stability and prosperity to the nation.
“Opportunities lie at the heart of the Youth Policy; it’s a manifestation of the commitment to creating opportunities, in particular to disadvantaged youth whose voices are often not heard. Giving a voice to youth was central to the development of the policy, especially those outside of Kabul,” said Dr. Laurent Zessler, the country representative for the United Nations Population Fund.
The process began in late 2012 with designation of an inter-ministerial working group. The team was built from various ministries with an interest in youth affairs including the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and the Ministry of Education. This spring, working groups began meeting weekly to continue developing the policy. The team developed a draft policy, and engaged in a series of consultative workshops across Afghanistan in cities like Herat, Kunduz, Mazar-e Sharif, Kabul, Jalalabad, Bamiyan and Kandahar. These workshops served to solicit input from Afghan youth and other organizations ensuring the development of a holistic and inclusive policy. The June 25 conference marked the presentation of the final policy to the public before it moves to the Council of Ministers for consideration. After the Council of Ministers approves the policy it will be sent to President Karzai for signature and implementation.
“Once President Karzai signs the National Youth Policy, it will serve as a guiding document for all new youth programs, and it will serve to guide the development of a five-year National Youth Strategy,” said DMoYA representative, Mr. Sayed Saiedy.
Financial and technical support for the National Youth Policy development process came from the Government of Afghanistan in partnership with the International Labor Organization, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Population Fund, the United Nations Children’s Fund, ISAF, and USAID implementing partner Counterpart among others.