The recent rising determination for change in women’s rights, equality and justice as demonstrated by global women movement and campaigns such as the #MeToo and #TimesUp reveals that there is more work to be done. Findings from the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report shows that gender parity is over 200 years away, with Ghana ranking 72nd on the list of 144 countries, therefore the IWD’s campaign theme of #PressForProgress couldn’t have come at better time where more efforts are needed to harness the potential of women globally especially the African woman for empowerment.

It has become obvious that governments in Africa, must mobilize resources for the transformation of African women. To ensure an empowered African female with the potential and capacity to fully participate and influence policies that affect her family and community, there is the need to focus on education, a partnership for employment creation and leadership training. This is what Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) and the African Youth and Governance Conference seeks to achieve in bridging the gap which exists in gender parity.

At YBF, we believe that the youth should be at the center in all of this, not only as beneficiaries but as a critical interest group. With the African Youth and Governance Conference (AYGC) 2018 theme “MOBILIZING AFRICA’S FEMALE YOUTH TO BUILD A CONTINENT BEYOND AID”, YBF believes that the African female youth presents a great opportunity for creating an effective platform for participation in the political economy, building resilience of young females, and addressing the root causes of many of the key challenges of gender inequality and rural-urban gaps.

With dwindling AID to Africa, mobilization of youth to build the continent is key and inclusion to tap the potential of female youth and address key empowerment challenges in education, employment and leadership of urban and rural female youth in Africa is urgent.

Advocacy for equal access to educational facilities for rural female youth; inspire and challenge youth volunteerism to support rural females; promoting exchanges and exposure to educational tours and building partnerships to foster female youth development are ways YBF contributes to some of the challenges in female education.

Also through its annual conference, African Youth and Governance Conference, YBF brings together young leaders with a high percentage of women to build their capacity. This reflects on the recognition of the potential of the African female youth to generate wealth using knowledge, skills and creativity for Africa's development. The Female youth is mobilized, capacity built to analyze development agenda/policies and placed in the position to contribute and execute advocacy initiatives through meaningful policy engagements and participation.

Last year a team of young African female professional delegates of AYGC led by the Chair of the committee on gender and social inclusion, Princess Sekyere participated in the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York to present committee resolutions at the global level.  This year, a 10-member delegation drawn from YBF’s network across Africa led by a Ghana female youth shall participate in CSW62.

According to Seth Oteng, founder of YBF and convenor of AYGC, “recognizing that youth development must not be the sole responsibility of governments, YBF adopts a multi-stakeholder collaborative approach for our interventions: we mobilize rural female youth to participate in national and out-of Ghana training programmes. The youth use the exposure, network, knowledge capacity gained to be change agents and leaders in their communities.”

These initiatives and engagements are our modest contribution to #PressForProgress and we call for a multi-stakeholder collaboration (Government, corporate Africa, and Development Partners, Civil Society and Citizens) to harness the potential of the African female youth to build a continent Beyond Aid.