Youth expert outlines priority goals of the Draft Federal Youth Policy

(SKNIS): Youth expert assigned through the Commonwealth, Dwynette Eversley, outlined several domains that are expected for youth policies, noting that it is important to have priority goals so that persons can hone in on the action areas that are needed to protect young persons and advance the development of youth.

Ms. Eversley appeared on “Working for You” on Wednesday, March 29, along with Pierre Liburd, Director (Ag.) of the Department of Youth, and Vernon Connor, Special Advisor to the Minister of Youth, where they updated the public on the development of the Draft Federal Youth Policy. She said that goals are set in order to obtain meaningful information as it relates to youth.

“We want to know how young people are doing, their state and well-being and the impacts of development imperatives and initiatives in the areas of education, primarily in the area of economic participation, and it means how people participate in the economy, what opportunities and access are available. So employment, employability, entrepreneurship and equal opportunities, all of that is economic participation,” she said. “We want to know about the young people’s health and when we introduce the concept well-being, we say that because health is not only measured by physical health but by mental and emotional health. Very recently we celebrated International Happiness Day and now the experts are telling us – we know whether countries are going well or whether policies are relevant based on how happy people are. And if we don’t have happy young people, how can we have a happy society?”

Public safety and security are also among the priority goals, which form part of the Federal Youth Policy and to which the youth expert deemed as important. She stated that all Caribbean countries including St. Kitts and Nevis have to provide a regime of security where people feel valued. [We talked about] protections against a crime and against abuses within the home and across the board,” she added.

She said that the policy also speaks to youth participation and representation and advocacy, as it is important to “create a society where young people know that their voices are valued”.

“We found [youth participation, representation and advocacy] critical for a country like St. Kitts and Nevis whose economic resilience portfolio is predicated on tourism and climate change,” she said. “What are the roles of young people in preserving that and helping the country achieve its sustainable development agenda?”

The youth expert spoke to another important goal which is related to youth work.

“All of this is fine but if you don’t have professional youth work and you don’t have the capacity to manage and coordinate that, we are spinning top in mud. What we expanded upon was making the policy gender sensitive. We wanted to ensure that gender equality is interwoven right through and that is why it’s a cross-cutting issue,” said Ms. Eversley. “We say youth rights are human rights, so we are not providing services because we feel like it. Rights, all those things, education, health, access to work – these are rights. So that’s the way the policy is framed.”

She said that Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is a cross-cutting issue, adding that economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, job creation, and health services can be fueled by ICT. The youth expert said that the hope is for St. Kitts and Nevis to be able to take its rightful place in the global community, as the federation already enjoys a permanent place in the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as it relates to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), its high ranking passport, among other important and recognized categories.

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