The Generation Democracy (GenDem) Malawi Chapter has launched the Uniting Youth
Building Bridges Initiative in an effort to promote youth-led response to the coronavirus
disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
GenDem coordinator Chimwemwe Kaonga said the youth sector has been gravely hit by the pandemic; hence,the decision to launch the initiative.

Kaonga made the remarks in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times soon after the launch of
the institution in Malawi at a function that took place at the Golden Peacock Hotel in Blantyre
on Friday.
“Covid-19 is not a respecter of age, it is disproportionately disrupting young people’s lives on a
larger scale. Access to jobs, livelihoods and other economic opportunities have been
compromised. Young people are being obstructed from their full ability to participate in social,
economic and political space” he said.

Kaonga observed that Covid-19 has affected education opportunities for the youth, which, in
turn, has bred gender-based violence in homes and child marriage issues.
He noted with concern the growing number of teenage pregnancies across the country which
have been linked to closure of schools.
“It is pertinent that the youth get to the centre of Covid-19 fight. Equipped with knowledge,
skills and resources, young people can be the game changers in the fight against Covid-19 using their demographics, creativity, energies and innovation,” said Kaonga.
The Director of Health and Social Services at Blantyre City Council, Dr Emmanuel
Kanjunjunju, applauded the International Republican Institute (IRI) because of its flagship
youth program-Generation Democracy, which he says has demonstrated commitment to
ensuring that the youth play a major role even in the fight against Covid-19.
“It is evident young people have brilliant ideas but they often times lack support to execute
their ideas. As Blantyre City Council, we shall continue supporting the youth and make sure
they have a stake in civic life” said Kanjunjunju.
He advised GenDem Malawi Chapter to use the resources prudently so that the project
achieves its intended results.
On the other hand, the District Health Environmental Officer (DEHO) for Blantyre, Penjani
Chunda, said the youth need to be empowered so that they can help bring solutions amidst
the crisis.
According to Chunda, the campaign has come at the right time when the country is
overwhelmed and seeking support from various partners and stakeholders to join the fight.
The Uniting Youth Building Bridges Initiative is youth-led and youth focused initiative being
supported by the International Republican Institute (IRI) to the tune of $4000.
It is digital campaign that will empower the youth with information, knowledge and skills to
help fight covid-19 using platforms such as Zoom and Facebook.
The launch was patronised by officials from Blantyre City Council, District Health Office,
District Youth Office and youth representatives from various networks and organizations.
Founded in 2015 by IRI, Generation Democracy is a global network of over 4000 civic minded
young leaders across 70 countries aimed at helping young people forge national and
transnational alliances to build more resilient, inclusive and transparent democracies.
Currently, Malawi has six generation democracy academy alumni who were trained in South
Africa, Austria and United States of America (USA).

Source: Nyasa Times, 2020

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