Participants at the workshop in Nativi village (Photo: Tomoko Kashiwazaki/UNDP)

Ra, Fiji
– Youths from Western Division gathered in numbers at a workshop in Nativi village, Ra on the International Youth Day and discussed how young Fijians could best address the challenges they faced in order to develop their capacity to effectively participate in decision making.

A series of a two-day workshop on ‘Building Capacities of Youth to Enable Effective Democratic Participation and Social Cohesion’ is coordinated by the National Youth Council of Fiji in collaboration and partnership with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“Given Fiji’s transition to democracy following elections last year, its parliamentary systems and the opportunities, rights and freedoms under the constitution, young people need to be fully equipped with decision making skills to become effective leaders and participate in the processes required under a democratic society,” said the Honorable Laisenia Bale Tuitubou, Minister for Youth and Sports in his opening speech at the workshop in Nativi village today.

The workshop was built on the youth empowerment programme of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and included awareness raising on key democratic governance principles and the participation of youths in national and sub-national decision making processes.

“We are excited to bring the voices of our group, which combines youth from two villages and is formally registering, to the workshop and share with other young people,” said N. Dharam Veer Singh, from Barotu village.

 “This workshop aims to help you achieve the understanding of youth participation in national and sub-national decision making processes as it will also discuss key challenges facing youth in Fiji particularly in the rural areas and how solutions can be established,” Hon. Tuitubou added.

“Youth participation in the formal decision making is critical to peace and development of a country. UNDP is committed to supporting young people in developing leadership skills, so they will be confident and competent in expressing their voices in such decision making processes,” said Akiko Fujii, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, in her opening remarks.

Ms Fujii appreciated the partnership between the Government of Fiji, the National Youth Council of Fiji and UNDP, to work together in the area of engaging young people in achieving sustainable human development and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Joseph Veramu, Adviser to the National Youth Council of Fiji, said “We need to develop a committed generation of proactive young people who can be empowered to develop their socio-economic capacities while also contributing to nation building.”

“We have identified teenage pregnancy is one of the serious issues young people, including my friends, face. We need to seek more information so we have more knowledge about it and spend our time as planned,” said Koini Vakaoro, one of the youth participants from Nativi village.

“Youth Civic Engagement”, the theme of the International Youth Day this year recognizes that the engagement and participation of youth is essential to achieve sustainable human development. UNDP supports the capacity development of young people and youth-led organizations, and the development of youth caucuses in government, parliament and other bodies.

The capacity development workshop, targeting developing Fiji’s youth populace, is held in the Northern, Western and Eastern Divisions, started in Labasa and Taveuni last week and heading for Levuka on 3-4 September.

The workshop is organized as part of the project, Strengthening Youth Participation in the Transition to Democracy, started in Fiji in 2012. It is supported through the Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund established by UNDP.

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