Young African Women's Summit

Engendering the Demographic Dividend Discourse: Amplifying Young African Women's Voices

23rdJanuary 2017: 9.00- 11.00 am

African Union Commission Headquarters, Addis Ababa Ethiopia


The AU Assembly Decision (Assembly/AU/Dec.591 (XXVI) of January 2016 devoted the theme of the year 2017 to “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend Through Investments in the Youth”. Africa, having the highest percentage of youth in the world, faces the significant task of turning the youth bulge into an opportunity. Forty percent of Africa’s population is under the age of 14. However, population increases do pose challenges of their own, not least being the need to provide primary to tertiary educational opportunities, to absorb the large numbers of young people into productive work, and to provide them with increased political representation, to ensure a stable political future. Despite constituting just over half of the youth population, young women’s issues are not given the priority they deserve. It is notable that young women are still under-represented in civic spaces, including in politics, the economy, social affairs, and science and technology. For example, young women in different platforms have expressed that they lack dedicated spaces to discuss concerns specific to them. They continue to be limited by social and cultural norms, face discrimination, lack access to support systems.[1] Young women are derailed from realizing their potential by challenges such as child, early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and other harmful practices, as well as unwanted pregnancies, limited access to education and to health care.

In accordance with this year’s theme, the various spaces and platforms established within  the African Union Summit structure need to urgently grapple with the challenges that face young African women specifically, as discussions about the youth population tend to pivot on the male experience. Further, these platforms ought to provide more opportunities to enable and facilitate the amplification of young women’s voices and encourage their full and effective participation. In order to harness the demographic dividend effectively, we need to deliberately create space for young African women at the decision-making table. Such platforms include the “Gender Is My Agenda Campaign” (GIMAC) which is one of the Civil Society Organizations(CSOs) Pre-Summit events and the Gender Pre-Summit meeting which is a Multi-Stakeholders space bringing together different stakeholders working on Gender equality and women’s rights, particularly national Gender Ministries and Women’s Rights Organisations and Networks. Creating spaces that are exclusively for young African women is necessary in enabling and facilitating them to deliberate as a cohort of political actors and in recognizing their contribution to sustainable development. This provides a platform to deliberate about the issues specific to them and to develop recommendations that they will use to influence policy.

The African Young Women’s Summit is a space that has been created exclusively for young women to articulate issues affecting and of concern to them and to develop a common position to influence various policy platforms pre, during and post the AU Summit.

Objectives of the Young Women’s Summit

  •  To provide a space for Young African women to advocate for women and girls’ rights, and to propose a gender-sensitive approach to the demographic dividend discourse
  • To create a space for young women to discuss gaps and issues affecting them in various areas including but not limited to; civic participation and leadership, human rights violations, Gender Based Violence including cyber violence, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, peace and security and Economic justice.
  • To amplify young women’s voices and promote their agency.
  • To create a platform for young African women to network among themselves and strengthen regional partnerships and movement building
  • To facilitate young women’s engagement with Ministers and other key policy makers with a view to influencing policies and decisions that will translate into more strategic policies and programmes that are more responsive to the needs, interest and aspirations of young women.

[1]ThatayaoneNnini, Young women participation: The theory and the practice, p 74,