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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC Commemorates Africa Day

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The South African Human Rights Commission (the Commission) wishes everyone a Happy Africa Day. Africa Day is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – the precursor to the African Union - on 25th May 1963.
This year’s theme for this important day is: ‘Harnessing the demographic dividend through investments in youth.’
The theme was adopted by African Union Heads of State and Government in light of the African Union Commission’s recognition of the need to empower Africa’s youth to be in a position to realise the objectives of Vision 2063.

It is understood that Africa has a population of 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 (the youth bracket), resulting in Africa having the youngest population in the world. If the current trend continues, this figure is believed to double by 2045, according to the 2012 African Economic Outlook report prepared by experts from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the industrialised countries’ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), among others.

This large number of youth across the continent is often referred to as ‘Africa’s Youth Dividend’. What is apparent to the Commission and many experts within development environment, is that if we fail to invest in, harness the energy, creativity and skills of African youth - within South Africa and the rest of the continent – African development will be stifled.  According to the World Bank, youth account for 60% of the unemployed across the African continent. In North Africa, the youth unemployment rate is at 30%, however it is worse here in South Africa, Botswana, the Republic of the Congo, Senegal, and several other countries.

The Commission firmly believes that the promotion, protection and realisation of basic rights in our Constitution, creates one of the strongest foundations for the development of the youth. Essential rights such as the right to education, which, for many, provide a path out of poverty; is the key to economic transformation for Africa.

In recognition of massive rates of unemployment which face youth in South Africa, and the pronounced impact of unemployment, particularly on persons with disabilities, The SAHRC today released a guide and monitoring framework to assist employers employ persons with disabilities.

The theme for Africa Day, which focusses on the youth, is a welcomed one and is indicative of the recognition that together we can achieve more as a continent. This achievement will rely heavily on the ability of States to promote respect for the protection of human rights. The affirmation through this theme seen through a human rights lens will take into account youth who are not only poor, but who are women, LGBT persons, youth who are foreign nationals and youth with disabilities and heighten an awareness that the ideal of empowerment and respect can begin to be more fully embraced in Africa for the benefit of the continents future.  


Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission.

Gushwell Brooks – Communications Co-ordinator Tel: 082 645 8573 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

Braampark Forum 3, 33 Hoofd Street, Braamfontein

011 877 3600 (Switchboard)

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