Empowering youth
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President, Dr. Irfaan Ali with some of the members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Council (Delano Williams photo)
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali with some of the members of the Presidential Youth Advisory Council (Delano Williams photo)

— President’s Youth Advisory Council launched
— geared at mainstreaming youth involvement in development, policy-making in Guyana

WITH an aim of mainstreaming youth involvement in the development and policy-making in Guyana, the President’s Youth Advisory Council (PYAC) was launched on Friday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.

PYAC Member, Bibi Aafreeda Hakh

Comprised of a wide-cross section of young people from diverse backgrounds, possessing a variety of skills set, the Council is expected to play a role in advising on national development priorities for the country’s young people. The Youth Advisory Council initiative is a PPP/C Manifesto promise to allow young people the opportunity to help shape their future.
Delivering the feature address at the launch, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali emphasised that his Government recognised the importance of young people’s involvement in the implementation of policies and programmes that are aimed at building the future of the country.

“I believe strongly that we need our young people to be critically integrated into the policy-making and policy implementation of our country so they can have in-depth understanding of how policies are determined,” President Ali said.

PYAC Member Sabina Savoury

He added: “[We have to] ensure that we build a future that is strongly rooted in a number of things and supported by the people; that future is geared towards creating opportunities for the type of prosperity and results that see all of us enjoying a better life.”
Within the next 30 days, the President is expected to announce more details about the Council.
The members of the Council are expected to work in communities, develop programmes and projects and do feasibility studies that will be used to further develop programmes targetting youths.

ThAT, the members of the Council are greatly looking forward to.
“I felt elated to be part of this change, to be part of something that will help benefit the young people. They said it’s a chance that you could go out there and help young people and I think it’s an excellent opportunity,” commented Bibi Aafreeda Hakh, 25.

Hakh is a pilot and lieutenant in the Guyana Defence Force and was surprised when she received a call from the Office of the President, asking her to be part of the initiative. Hakh is one of a number of women who make up more than 50 per cent of the Council.

During his remarks, President Dr. Ali continually commented on how happy he was about the wide spectrum of diversity that was able to be captured in the makeup of the Council, and how it fits into his Government’s ‘One Guyana’ agenda.

“I don’t think we can ask for a better representation of ‘One Guyana’ than when we look at the composition of the Youth Council,” the President commented.
Prior to the launch on Friday morning, the President held a meeting with the PYAC members at State House.

“In the meeting he spoke a lot about driving transformation. He basically told us about how he will be positioning us to be the voice of the youth for him. So that when we interact with the youth we then have to relay that to him. It was a meeting to solidify his vision of One Guyana and how we fit into that vision,” explained Sabina Savoury, a 32-year-old mother of one who is also a member of the Council.

An economist at the Ministry of Finance, Savoury has over 10 years of service in the public service. She believes that she has a wealth of knowledge to impart and looks forward to working with fellow youth members.
Dental surgeon, Dr. Ian Jagan called the meeting very informative.

“He really has a nice clear idea of his vision, where he would like to see Guyana in the coming years. We are definitely in exciting times and we look to work with him and work together to build a united and a strong Guyana,” Dr Jagan commented.

During his remarks, the President encouraged the members and impressed upon them the importance of the role they are about to fill. He told them that though they may come up against challenges or naysayers, they must remain focused and not be distracted by “outside noise”.

“I say to these young people, focus. Focus on what we spoke about, on the task ahead, on your country, on the future, on the legacy you want to leave, what you want to do, what you committed yourself to do. Do not focus on the noise,” the President cautioned.

Also making remarks at the event was Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Charles Ramson, who emphasised that he was happy to be part of a Government that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk.

“While other countries are scrambling because young people are not getting the opportunities to have their voices heard, [in Guyana] we are more than having our voices heard, we are at the seat of the table,” Ramson said.

He pointed to the high representation of youth in the country’s Cabinet as testament to the Government’s commitment to youth involvement. He described the PYAC as another level of reinforcement for what already exists.

“It is very important that you understand why you are here and how important it is that you are here. The country is going to change, it’s going to transform. We get to define how it’s going to transform. We are also building the nexus of how we are making those decisions so that we can define the transformation of the country,” Ramson said.

He continued: “President Ali has taken this additional step to establish this Council to fortify and amplify the voice of young people in the decision-making process. So that all of the projects, programmes and policies that directly impact you can be shared towards advancing development.”

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