Message from Hon. Adrian Forde, M.P., Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment, in Commemoration of International Youth Day 2019.
I am delighted to deliver this message in commemoration of Barbados’ observance of International Youth Day on 12 August 2019. My Ministry, and Government by extension, joins the international community to mark the occasion by first acknowledging the positive contribution of Barbadian youth to national development in spite of the number of challenges they face as a population.
Contrary to popular belief, the vast majority of our youth are able to record experiences that make us proud as a nation. The engagement in positive and productive activities like the extraordinary performances they record in sports, their accomplishments in cultural pursuits, the interests and exploits in technological development, their leading role in innovation and entrepreneurial pursuits and their participation in voluntary work and contributions to the discourse on topics that are of national interest, are some of features of the youth population that are deserving of greater attention.
As some may want us to believe, doom and gloom is not the pervasive feature of our youth. This does not in any way deny our deep awareness and concern of the issues of unemployment where over 30% of youth are without work or are underemployed; the negative impact of crime both as perpetrators and as victims; the incidence of unsatisfactory educational attainment for significant numbers; the weight of HIV and STIs on this vulnerable population particularly as the prime sexual reproductive group; the impact of substance abuse on their development and the other myriad challenges they and their families face. Indeed, these challenges are not unique to Barbados, but they do represent some of the main topics of discussion during fora at the regional and international levels, as well as within the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization.
Through a number of innovative programmes and the sustaining of strategies that have proven to work to the benefit of the youth, my Ministry along with other public, private and civil society organizations will continue to strive for the improvement of the circumstances that befall Barbadian youth. We remain steadfast in our commitment to place youth at the centre of the national development agenda. Our vision is that Barbados will be transformed into the best place in the world for young people to live, learn, create, do business, play, work, raise children and dream.
My message therefore to young Barbadians is that we have your back. We will work together to ensure your entry in the labour market, build your capacities and connect them with better working opportunities. We will seek to foster innovation, support young entrepreneurs to create businesses and develop tourism opportunities. We will endeavour to reduce the risks that confront your development and generally create the environment for you to prosper. All these take effort and time but we believe that they are possible. We believe that no one should be left behind.
On this day, I call for the forging of new partnerships and the joining of efforts in eliminating all barriers faced by our young people. This is the time for Government, the private sector, trade unions, third sector organizations and civil society to work together to ensure our youth are less vulnerable to any sort of exclusion, so that they may have access to opportunities to realize their dreams and aspirations, and be able to make a meaningful contribution to our Barbadian society and to the world.
These are opportunities we should not miss!