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As part of a series of regional consultations, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other UN partners organized a consultation for the East and Southern Africa region to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1 to 3 of August 2017. This regional consultation on Youth, Peace, and Security is part of a global effort to recognize that as agents of change, young people are critical actors in conflict prevention and sustaining peace. Deise Chongo, a 23-year-old young woman from Mozambique’s Youth Parliament, represented Mozambique’s youth during this important consultation with support from UNFPA Mozambique.

The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative. Young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly is key to building and sustaining peace. The meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains. Fortunately, recent times have witnessed a gradual shift in paradigm. 


Ms. Chongo was very appreciative of the opportunity to participate along with peers (from 23 – 28 years of age) from South Africa, Swaziland, Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Angola and the Comoros Island. She was glad to learn about the experiences of youth in these varying African countries, stating that this knowledge will make it easier for the East and South African countries to align their strategies so that their efforts can be more effective in the future – particularly in an effort to combat the negative perceptions about youth.

Deise hopes that she can share her experience and the lessons she learned with the youth of Mozambique on a personal level and through the Youth Parliament so that they can come together to create new initiatives. The young activist was impressed by the fact that all the facilitators, observers, and organizers actively participated in the conversation, showing the equal participation of all those present. This made her feel that everyone truly cared about the issues raised by the young participants and that each individual was invested in the search for sustainable change for the youth of East and Southern Africa. Additionally, this consultation offered an opportunity to create new links and friendships that will foster further conversations, not only about peace and security but on adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health and rights, youth empowerment, and other youth – related issues.