Youth Partnership for Peace and Development (YPPD) in Sierra Leone stands resolute in its commitment to advancing the rights and well-being of young people. As an organization fervently dedicated to championing the voices of young people, we find ourselves at a critical juncture, urging the government to integrate the recently developed Agenda for Action for Adolescents into national policy frameworks. The genesis of this imperative agenda emerged as a result of the Global Forum for Adolescents convened in October 2023, where diverse stakeholders, including young leaders, policymakers, and advocates, collaboratively deliberated and formulated strategies aimed at enhancing the lives of adolescents worldwide. This outcome, the Agenda for Action for Adolescents, encapsulates a holistic approach to address the multifaceted challenges faced by adolescents today. Our ongoing project on Advocating for Change for Adolescents in Sierra Leone resonates deeply with the principles and goals outlined in this comprehensive agenda.
We firmly believe that the incorporation of these commitments into national policies and programs is not only pivotal but also indispensable for fostering positive and sustainable change in the lives of adolescents. Sierra Leone’s adolescent population constitutes a significant segment of our society, representing the future of our nation. However, they encounter a myriad of challenges, ranging from limited access to quality education and healthcare services to facing social stigmatization and economic marginalization. The Agenda for Action for Adolescents provides a roadmap—a blueprint that addresses these challenges comprehensively, focusing on key areas such as education, health, protection, and empowerment. Education stands as a fundamental pillar in the development of adolescents. Yet, numerous barriers hinder access to quality education for many young individuals in Sierra Leone. By integrating the agenda’s recommendations into educational policies, we can pave the way for inclusive and equitable education, ensuring that no adolescent is left behind.
Health remains a crucial aspect of adolescent well-being. Access to essential healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health services, is often limited, exposing adolescents to various health risks. The Agenda for Action for Adolescents advocates for comprehensive healthcare, encompassing physical, mental, and reproductive health services, thereby safeguarding the health and dignity of adolescents. Protection of adolescents from exploitation, violence, and discrimination is an urgent priority. The agenda underscores the need for robust legal frameworks and support systems to ensure the safety and rights of adolescents, fostering an environment where they can thrive and contribute meaningfully to society. Empowerment lies at the core of this agenda. Creating opportunities for adolescents to participate actively in decision-making processes, fostering their leadership skills, and providing avenues for skill development and employment are integral components for their empowerment and contribution to national development. Moreover, we proudly note that 9 young people, supported by YPPD, actively engaged in the national budget discussions organized by the Ministry of Finance. This demonstrates their profound interest in understanding the national budget setting and planning processes, which directly relate to their well-being and development. The integration of the Agenda for Action for Adolescents aligns seamlessly with our goals and the aspirations of countless adolescents in Sierra Leone.
YPPD firmly advocates for its adoption and implementation by the government, recognizing its potential to catalyze positive change and drive progress towards a future where every adolescent can realize their full potential. We call upon the government, policymakers, civil society organizations, and stakeholders at large to heed this call for integration. Let us unite our efforts, amplify the voices of adolescents, and work collaboratively to create an enabling environment that nurtures, protects, and empowers our young generation—the architects of our future. In conclusion, YPPD Sierra Leone remains steadfast in its resolve to champion the cause of adolescents and stands ready to collaborate with all stakeholders in the realization of the Agenda for Action for Adolescents. Together, let us build a future where every adolescent thrives and contributes meaningfully to the progress and prosperity of Sierra Leone.