The 20th of February is the World Day of Social Justice. According to the United Nations (UN) social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. It is upheld through the promotion of social and gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We can advance social justice by removing barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability.
This year the celebrations are running under the theme, “Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work”.
In relation to this year’s theme, Africa has popular involvement of unemployed youth in political instability. Young people on the continent are the most adversely affected by unemployment. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) global employment trends report of 2014, the average youth unemployment is currently about 11.8% against a regional total of 7.7%.
Unemployed and underemployed youth are more exposed to conflicts and illegal activities—many of them fall prey to armed and rebel groups. Andrews Atta-Asamoah, writing for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says insecurity in Africa ranges from the conflicts that characterised Africa’s security narrative in the early 1990s, mass killings in the Great Lakes region and other parts of Africa in the same period. Contemporary jihadist revivalism manifesting through the activities of AQMI in the Sahel, Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria and Al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa have also wreaked havoc. As a result, the fact that unemployed youth are not only victims but also active participants of political instability in Africa.
The [high] total fertility rate is Africa’s biggest demographic challenge, says Carl Haub, senior demographer at Population Reference Bureau. This means a constantly rising number of people entering the labour force ages is the continents’ biggest challenge. However, the World Bank has reported that the demographic transition makes youth the most abundant asset that the region can claim, thus making it a window of opportunity.
What are our recommendations for Africa, how can we have more young people in employment thus aiding the promotion of peace?