Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has been appointed as champion of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) youth programmes.
The President was appointed on Monday by a United Nations delegation led by UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Population Fund, Dr Babatunde Osotimehin after a closed door meeting at Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa Ethiopia.
Briefing the media after the discussions, Osotimehin said it pleased them to appoint the Malawi leader as the champion for the youth programmes for his commitment in working with and prioritising young people.
Osotimehin commended the president for supporting UNFPA efforts in terms of youth programmes and pledged to make the initiative work.
Said Osotimehin: “I am glad that we have the support of the president. He has committed to supporting the programme. I am very optimistic that he will help in transforming the lives of young people in Malawi and at international level.”
He emphasised the importance of adolescents and youth to the development agenda of any country and that providing them with opportunities is essential for realisation of their full potential.
He said: “We will work with the President to empower the young people.”
He said there is need to invest in education and health, especially for adolescent girls, and to decrease maternal mortality and meet unmet needs for family planning.
Said Osotimehin: “The challenges facing the youth today are so many. African adolescents and young people face a complex set of risks and vulnerabilities that impede their health, education and economic opportunities, and Malawian young people are no exception. In addition young people, especially girls, are subjected to sexual exploitation, unsafe abortion, harmful cultural practices and forced marriages, and many of them drop out of school.”
Osotimehin also said working with and for women and young people is central to the work of UNFPA and to their refocused and sharpened Strategic Plan.
Malawi became one of the first countries in UNFPA’s East and Southern Africa Region to launch the new Safeguarding Young People Programme, a regional initiative that aims at reviewing laws and policies that negatively affect young people.
The programme looks at the provision of comprehensive sexuality education, strengthening of youth networks, strengthening documentation of evidence and the provision of youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services, including family planning.