(Alex Sterling, Executive Director of JAYECAN)
The Jamaican Youth Empowerment through Culture, Arts and Nationalism (JAYECAN) endorses the United Nation’s International Youth Day, under the theme “Youth Building Peace”.
The United Nations notes that young people’s inclusion in the peace and security agenda and in society more broadly, is key to building and sustaining peace. When youth are excluded from political, economic and social spheres and processes, it can be a risk factor for violence and violent forms of conflict. Therefore, identifying and addressing the social exclusion of young people is a precondition for sustaining peace.
“It is through inclusion and youthful perspective that we as a nation will rise. Times have changed and we as a people are changing with it. Leaving the voice of the youth as an echo in the background has never worked and it is time we embrace this fact. Let us call for greater youth inclusion in our security, our communities and all national policies. Once we wholeheartedly understand that the youth are the present and the future, we will truly grow as a nation.” Alex Sterling, Executive Director of JAYECAN.
There is no doubt that our country needs real youth involvement in order for us to progress. Our charge for youth inclusion as a nation, is lacking in several areas; including that of peacebuilding and security. Let us broaden our vision and come to terms with the reality that youth involvement in our security policies is a key factor in building and sustaining peace in our country and across the world. We dare not declare ourselves a prosperous nation when young people are being killed and not enough is being done to combat these heinous acts. Youth are also the most common perpetrators of crime and their influence should be leveraged in addressing this.
Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica, reminds us that “There is nothing wrong with Jamaica, that cannot be fixed by what is right about Jamaica.”The question then arises, what is right with Jamaica with regards to security and the laws that govern same? Recent headlines would suggest that we have a very far way to go as a nation. We must however look on with hope. Looking towards the possibilities and promises which lie within Vision 2030. The vision emphasises the commitment to creating and advancing security by vigorously seeking, learning, generating, and applying scientific and technological knowledge to the advancement of our nation and our people. Even so, a vital component is missing, the voice of our people which can never be interpreted to exclude the voice of our youth.
JAYECAN desires for Jamaican youth to understand the role that they have to play in the advancement of our country. One such role is the establishing and maintaining of a true spirit of comradery amongst our people. Let us not only celebrate this theme of peace but put into practice daily and embrace the fact that we are truly our brother’s and sister’s keeper. With this spirit we will be always remember our joint responsibility to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.