By Jihan Anwar
“We would like our childhoods to be colored by rosy, joyous colors, not impregnated by the red of bloody conflicts” Sara Aziz, a member of the Democratic School in Sana’a, said in the ‘The World We Want’ conference held Monday 21st April, in Sana’a.
Tawakkul Karman, Yemeni Nobel Peace prize winner, explained that the purpose of the event is to launch a national consultation program on developmental priorities for a post 2015 world agenda.The conference was organized by the United Nations in cooperation with local civil society organizations.
Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan and Tawakul Karman are the two Arab members on the UN High Level Panel (HPL).
The HPL first met at the annual UN General Assembly in 2012 and is co-chaired by Prime Minister of UK David Cameron; Liberian Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono. The purpose of the panel is to provide recommendations for a post 2015 global development agenda based on people’s set priorities.
The data and consultations received by Yemen’s populations across ages and background will be included in a report collected throughout the months of April and May.
Bishaw Parajuli, representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Yemen, restated the United Nations’ commitment to help Yemen. “We are here. We are committed. We will support you” he said.
Parajuli affirmed that the purpose of the forum and workshops will be to collect views from Yemen so as to integrate Yemen’s voice into the global conversation. Citizens’ opinions on developments priorities will be gathered in multiple ways, digitally and on the field by consultation groups.
Anyone can vote for their top six priorities on the MyWorld website from a total of sixteen categories that range from protection against crime and violence to an honest and responsive government to the need of a good education.
In mid May, a report will be compiled by a panel of international experts, while the final report and the proposed agenda on the post 2015 world will be submitted to the United Nations’ Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, by June.
Though there is a relative improvement in Yemen’s data in some areas, the majority of the Millennium Development Goals are far from being achieved in the country.
“Why should Yemeni children be malnourished? They are the future of tomorrow’s Yemen!” Mr. Parajuli asked, pointing out that Yemen needed to yet address basic rights and defend them.
Ahmed Bazaraa, businessman and Chairman of the ‘comprehensive, sustainable and integrated development’ working group at the National Dialogue Conference, indicated education, health, cultural and economical issue to be among the most important ones addressed by his group. Aside from social participation in the agenda setting, Bazara’a stated that monitoring was a key factor to have effective, tangible results.
Antelak AlMutawakel, co-founder of the Youth Leadership Development Foundation and member of the ‘Rights and freedom’ working group at the ND expressed her appreciation for seeing that preparations were in the way for a post 2015 world and Yemen. “It’s definitively a positive sign that voices are being heard, the civil society has been finally included in the decision making” AlMutawakel said.
“Maybe it’s because of my academic background, but I still consider education as the number one priority and the basis to lead Yemen to a prosperous future” AlMutawakkel added.
Ala’a Qasem from Resonte!Yemen gave a clear and logical speech on the importance of including youth in the global agenda setting. “Why should youth be integrated in the dialogue and in the decision making? Very simply, if we look at the average age of the Yemeni population we will realize that, in fact, the average age for Yemenis is 17 years!”
Qasem went on to clarify that if the objective of the consultations was to capture the real needs, wants and ambitions of Yemenis, the youth should be the first one to be consulted as they composed the majority of the Yemeni population.
A consultational forum has already been held in the Arab states of Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.