Terms of Reference for the Africa Youth Steering Committee
1.1 Contextual Background
Africa is the only region where the youth bulge will continue to grow in the foreseeable future, presenting both an opportunity to reap the demographic dividend and an imminent time bomb and threat to social cohesion. By 2030, the continent is projected to be home to over 600 million (reflecting 60% of the total population) young people and 1 billion by 2050, making Africa the world’s youngest continent. In the East and Southern Africa region, the youth proportion is 52%.
The recent regional consultations on strengthening youth leadership and supporting their active engagement in all aspects of life bordering the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the exclusively youth-steered 2018 Africa Youth Conference and 2019 Abidjan and Addis Ababa Generation Equality Fora, have opened an opportunity for UN Women East and Southern Africa country offices and Regional office to engage on broader issues of accelerating progress towards more comprehensive information, knowledge generation and sharing.
The roll-out, build-up and successful conclusion of the Generation Equality Forum has ignited a transformative approach to Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls across the board. Through its six ambitious Action Coalitions (Gender-Based Violence, Economic justice and rights, Bodily autonomy and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), Feminist action for climate justice, Technology and innovation for Gender Equality, Feminist movements and leadership), GEF centers the leadership of youth. The GEF Mexico and Paris Fora initiated an enduring movement for action and accountability that provides a vital moment for young activists, feminists, and allies to achieve transformative change for future generations. The Mexico Forum resulted in a highly visible engagement by youth, with 43.8% of participants being 34 years old and younger. These statistics point to the need for UN Women and other actors to take a more strategic approach to youth engagement on various gender dimensions, including but not limited to leadership and governance, ending all forms of violence, economic justice and peace-building processes.
1.2 Steering Committee
The UN Women East and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) covers work in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The Multi-Country Office (M/CO) in South Africa oversees work in several countries in Southern Africa. The Regional Office also supports nine Non-Resident Agency Countries (NRAs). The ESA Strategic Note 2022-25 identifies partnerships with young women and men in pursuing gender equality as a critical element of the work in this region. The Regional Youth Engagement Strategy, thus aligned with the strategic note to elevate meaningful engagement with young people. Annually the RO (Regional Office) will work with young people-led organizations that focus on GEWE on issues such as ending violence against women and girls, supporting young people’s participation in humanitarian action, economic empowerment, peacebuilding and conflict resolution, governance and political participation at national and local government levels, and key intergovernmental processes to review GEWE commitments such as CSW (Commission on the Status of Women) and their economic empowerment. The work of RO will also strengthen the capacity of the UN system better to address the intersectional issues of youth and gender.
The RO seeks to establish a Youth Steering Committee to act as a strategic advisory group on integrating the meaningful engagement of young women and men in implementing the SN (Strategic Notes) 2022-25 as set out in ESARO’s Youth Engagement Strategy. The Youth Steering Committee would act as a sounding board for the RO team, guiding them on the design of programmes, so that they address the gender needs of young people in their diversity while supporting the amplification of youth voices and facilitating their participation in key processes to influence policy, advocacy and programming on GEWE in the region.
Members of the Group will be drawn from young people aged between 15 and 35 years from the East and Southern Africa region.
UN Women shall provide secretariat services for the Steering Committee by coordinating meetings, producing documentation and meeting minutes, managing correspondence, information management/ dissemination and related tasks.
1.3 Role of the Steering Committee
The Committee has the primary role of advising the RO and Regional Youth Engagement specialist(s)/ Focal Points based in-country offices on strategies to meaningfully engage young people and outreach activities related to the focus areas of the Youth Engagement Strategy. The duties and responsibilities of the Steering Committee shall include:
- Provide strategic input to RO programming, ensuring it integrates the interests of young people in various contexts;
- Advise the RO and weigh in on the design of youth-specific initiatives as set out in the SN 2022-25 and the Regional Youth Engagement Strategy, e.g., related to CSW, Generation Equality regional or country activities; planned research or knowledge products; background documents for key inter-governmental processes;
- Contribute to the shaping of events by providing information on potential panelists, speakers and moderators for UN Women ESA or global youth-related events;
- Participate in UN Women events when requested to ensure that this meaningfully centers and reflects on young women and men’s gender equality agenda.
- Develop a joint communique- outcome documents resulting from various workshops and consultations.
- Provide other inputs into the background papers and processes as may be required by the RO.
The Membership of the Steering Committee will include:
- Diverse young girls, boys, women, and men between the ages of 15-35 segmented into three clusters (15-24, 25-29,30-35)
- Young women and men with a record of accomplishment of working on programmes and advocacy initiatives related to gender equality and young women and men’s engagement work in their countries and the East and Southern Africa region.
- Young people from the East and Southern Africa region
- Young people representing diverse backgrounds and experiences, including groups less represented in other UN platforms and fora.
1.5 Steering Committee Meetings
The Steering Committee will get an initial orientation on UN Women’s Strategic Note and work in the region. The Steering Committee will meet quarterly on the first Tuesday of the relevant month, primarily through virtual platforms upon agreement with the committee members. The meetings and interactions shall be held via MS Teams, Email exchanges and Zoom conferencing, and physical meetings will be organized where possible.
1.6 Recruitment Criteria
An initial call for expression of interest will be issued to recruit nine youths with the greatest passion for youth development. After every two years, members who go beyond the 35-age limit will be replaced through the same process.
Who is Eligible?
Age:15-35 years old with a good mix of those who fall within ages 15-24, 25-29 and 30-35. This is premised on the AUC definition of youth.
15-24 years – three slots
25-29 years – three slots
30-35 years – three slots
One-third of the Steering Committee members, one from each age bracket, will be retained in every selection cycle for the institutional memory and replace the rest every two years
Leaving No One Behind: Three slots will be reserved for young women and men living with disability.
Experience and Practice:
- Must have good gender awareness and commit to the values of UN Women, including respect for all women and girls.
- Youth with a track record of engagement in youth development and empowerment focused on inclusive economic growth, employment, and entrepreneurship; engagement in governance/political participation, leadership and decision making; or preventing violence and other harmful practices against women and girls.
- Should have some understanding of or interest in development issues, including awareness of and participation in development issues affecting young people. Knowledge of SDGs is appreciated but not a mandatory nomination criterion.
- Interested in policy and programming interventions, governance, gender equality and women’s empowerment should be prioritized.
- Must be persons of integrity and have a good standing in their communities.
- Young people passionate about making Africa better by working with others to ensure that various gender inequalities are eliminated and the rights of women and girls to live full lives are fulfilled.
Availability: The position is on a voluntary basis, and selected members should be available to dedicate at least 2 hours every quarter for the consultations and meetings described in 1.6 above.
Inclusivity: The selection should consider gender balance and representation based on geography, age and disability. UN Women will take measures to ensure that group members can participate meaningfully and actively in this role.
Complete nomination forms should be submitted to UN Women by 6th October 2022.
 International Labour Organization (2020). Global Employment Trends for Youths 2020: Africa. Available at https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/documents/briefingnote/wcms_737670.pdf
 World Bank. 2016. Chart: The World's Youngest Populations Are in Africa. Available at https://blogs.worldbank.org/opendata/chart-worlds-youngest-populations-are-africa
 Generation Equality Forum Mexico Report, 2021.
 Step 1: Broaden representation and inclusion of young women in decision making structures and processes within M/COs and regional office, national and regional bodies
Step 2: Intentionally build the capacity of youth particularly to meaningfully engage in acceleration of gender equality agenda
Step 3: Strengthen spaces/platforms/networks and opportunities for youth to amplify their voice and receive feedback on gender equality
Step 4: Generate and disseminate gender-youth analyzed data, statistics and knowledge products
Step 5: Strengthen RO, M/COs and regional bodies partnership and coordination framework to catalyze coherent and structured youth engagement in all UN Women ESARO led programme, policies and campaigns