Category Archives: Post-2015 Development Agenda

Post-2015 Development Agenda and Youth, the vision of Dutch cyclists

Director UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja addresses the youths

Director UNIC Lagos, Mr Ronald Kayanja addresses the youths

The imminent end to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by end of 2015 has generated the question, ‘What next?’ which has also elicited the response, ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ being a component of the ‘Post-2015 Agenda’. The SDGs are structured to build on the achievements of the MDGs while strengthening some other aspects. The momentum of the MDGs must be doubled and sustained under the Post-2015 Agenda. One of the ways is to sufficiently equip the youth through sensitisation and awareness of their roles and opportunities inherent in the framework of development as captured in the Post-2015 Agenda.

It was in the light of the above that the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) New York, in January this year, organised a sensitisation video conference for a number of UN Information Centres (UNICs) including UNIC Lagos. Briefing the UNICs at the conference were the Youth Ambassador of The Netherlands to the UN General Assembly, Mr Jilt van Schayik and his partner, Mr Teun Meulepas, representing the Building Bridges Project. They have decided to ride a bicycle across two continents to promote youth development within the framework of the UN Post-2015 Agenda.

Trade Advisor, Embassy of The Netherlands, Mr Taco Westerhuis addresses the audience

Trade Advisor, Embassy of The Netherlands, Mr Taco Westerhuis addresses the audience

In February 2015, the two Dutch Cyclists, van Schayik, and Meulepas, took off from Amsterdam, The Netherlands and would ride a distance of 17,000 kilometres over a period of-six months to arrive at Cape Town, South Africa in August. By that time, they would have ridden their bicycles across 22 countries in two continents. The two young Cyclists are members of the “Building Bridges Project”, an international youth initiative, which pictures the United Nations post-2015 agenda from a youth perspective, focusing focuses on the priorities of young people and women at the grassroots level and their vision of the world in 2030.

A group picture

A group picture

Interestingly, as they moved from one country to the other seeking to improve the relationship between young people on the ground and decision makers at the United Nations, they engaged and inspired the youths to aspire to greatness by participating in UN activities in their neighbourhoods and by contributing to their nation’s development. On each occasion the youths were engaged, the cyclists left a footprint of excitements and a group of young people fired up to excel in life and support their communities. This was probably one of the reasons that when scores of young Togolese welcomed van Schayik, and Meulepas to Togo, one of them, Mr Julio Atti, opted to accompany the two Dutch cyclists to Lagos Nigeria.

Stopping over in Lagos, the cycling team, now three, two Dutch and one Togolese, were received by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands. Of course, fifteen Nigerian cyclists and over sixty other youths from three higher educational institutions and a secondary school were also on hand to welcome the ‘cross-continent’ cyclists whose triumphant entry to UNIC premises received a spontaneous applause by the waiting audience. No doubt, the young cyclists have conquered weather elements, from snowy Europe to around 47 degree Celsius in the Sahel region of Africa.

A cross-section of Nigerian cyclists who welcome the Dutch cyclists to Nigeria

A cross-section of Nigerian cyclists who welcome the Dutch cyclists to Nigeria

In his welcome remarks, the Director of UNIC in Lagos, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, acknowledged the resilience and commitment of van Schayik and Meulepas, for channeling their youthful energies into constructive engagement of other youths in Europe and Africa as well as building bridges between and amongst youths across the continents through cycling. He called on Nigerian youths to reposition themselves for the Post-2015 development even as the global community transits from MDGs to the SDGs. ‘Towards this end’, he continued, ‘youths need to acquaint themselves with the seventeen drafted SDGs and the scores of associated result areas’. Kayanja added that “In September this year in New York, member states of the United Nations will meet to agree on these goals (SDGs) we shall use as our target for the coming 15 years.

Cross-section of audience as one of the Dutch cyclists speaksIn his remark, the Trade Advisor, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lagos, Taco Westerhuis, commended the cyclists for the courage to undertake the journey; and their Nigerian counterparts for their team spirits and for daring to ride bicycles on the busy Lagos roads. He urged Nigerian youths to connect with every developmental initiative in their neighbourhoods.

Explaining the rationale behind the journey during the interactive session, van Schayik pointed out that his team sought to involve young people in policy making and bridging the gap between young people and policy makers. The Building Bridges project, he continued, ‘connects, shares and inspires youths in Africa and Europe through youth consultations, debates and conferences to raise awareness for the urgent challenges that exist around the United Nations’ post-2015 development agenda and gender equality.’

Responding to the National President of the All Nigeria United Nation Students Association (ANUNSA), Ms Elizabeth Ukoha’s question on mobilising youth for development, Meulepas, “But what we have realised is that, in all these things, young people are either not interested or are not well informed about what is going on. So their participation is minimal.”

There is so much in the UN Post-2015 Agenda for youth that it will amount to socio-economic suicide for any young person not to be involved. Nigerian youth must key into global scheme of things and draw inspiration for personal and national development. The laid-back ones cannot excel. Only the hard-working ones will reach the top. The two Dutch cyclists are worthy of emulation by all the youth around the world. Key into Post-2015 Agenda, develop yourself and do something for others.

 

UN@70, Post-2015 Development Agenda Echo at Women empowerment workshop

 

A participant, Ms Kofoworola Olaitan Anidugbe is excited to learn head-gear (Gele) tying.

A participant, Ms Kofoworola Olaitan Anidugbe is excited to learn head-gear (Gele) tying.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Library auditorium of the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos, where over 152 women gathered yesterday to aspire to be ‘A Better Me’, the theme of the Homemakers Lifestyle and Empowerment Workshop organized by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos and Brightlight Studios as part of activities marking the 70th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) as well as the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Defying the biting fuel scarcity in Nigeria and the status of Sunday as a rest day, the women clad in beautiful dresses turned up in their numbers to be a part of the programme which also contributes to the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 3: Promote Gender Equality and Women Empowerment.

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addressing the participants

UNIC Lagos National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun addressing the participants

In his welcome address the Director of UNIC Lagos, Ronald Kayanja, represented by the Centre’s National Information Officer, Oluseyi Soremekun, reiterated that women remained a priority group for the United Nations and reassured that the organisation would continue to make a positive difference to the lives of millions of people especially in terms of vaccinating children; distributing food aid; sheltering refugees; deploying peacekeepers; protecting the environment; seeking peaceful resolution of disputes and supporting democratic elections, gender equality, human rights and the rule of law.

Quoting the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, Kayanja noted that “The theme of this anniversary year, ‘Strong UN. Better World’ captures the importance of multilateralism. This is a time of test but far more one of tremendous opportunity.”

Executive Director, Brightlight Studios, Ms Lanre Anjola-Oyebode addressing the participants

Executive Director, Brightlight Studios, Ms Lanre Anjola-Oyebode addressing the participants

He added that the empowerment workshop aligned with the message of the UN Secretary General on UN@70 that the United Nations looks forward to working with people everywhere to build lives of safety, prosperity and dignity for all.

The Homemakers Lifestyle and Empowerment Workshop featured the business side of beauty which included Make-up skills and head-gear (Gele) tying lessons; Marriage/Relationship Counselling; Building a Successful Fashion Designing Business; and the Art and Science of making Desserts, Cocktails and Mocktails. The programme also featured exhibition of women’s products from the cultural industry; beauty products; Cakes and Pastries and women wellness products among others.

Cultural Industry Exhibition

Cultural Industry Exhibition

Having been asked to bring along their ‘Gele’ for the lesson on Head-gear tying which is gradually developing to be a thriving business in the country, the women brought out their different and colourful head-tie to go through the process of tying elegant, head-turning ‘Gele’. The ‘Gele’ tying session appeared to be the climax of the workshop as all the women looked upbeat and determined to learn the art of tying the head-gear.

A participant, Ms Olaitan Ajilogba, who conspicuously battled to get the tying right for a long period during the session expressed her delight that she eventually mastered the process and ‘tied a beautiful and glamorous head-gear.’

'Gele' tying lesson in session

‘Gele’ tying lesson in session

Commenting, another participant, Ms Aisha Joy Omosun, noted that the Make-up session was very instructive and educating and would add both social and economic values to the women.

The Executive Director of Brightlight Studios, Ms Lanre Anjola-Oyebode, had earlier explained the rationale behind the programme saying it was meant to grow the number of women who are economically independent and sufficiently empowered to support their husbands in raising educated and morally upright children.

Brightlight Studios, she added, would continue to collaborate with the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Lagos to empower and improve the wellbeing of women in Nigeria. UNIC Lagos and Brightlight Studios plan to make the Homemakers Lifestyle and Empowerment Workshop an annual event in Nigeria.