The local Youth Advisory Board of Mozambique: some experiences

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs is grateful for the advice and collaborative efforts from our International Youth Advisory Committee. However, what’s less known is that many of our embassies also make use of local Youth Advisory Boards (YAB), or committees. One of such examples can be found in Mozambique.

Group picture in Mozambique
The first Youth Advisory Board at the Dutch Embassy in Mozambique together with Elsbeth Akkerman (ambassador) and Pascalle Grotenhuis (Directorate-General for International Cooperation).

What is the YAB in Mozambique?

The YAB in Mozambique consist of 7 members from diverse backgrounds and regions. The goal of the YAB is to ensure youth-inclusive programs and projects. For the YAB members, this experience is a great opportunity to expand their network and connections, gain professional experience, attend meetings with ambassadors, stakeholders, and various relevant organizations.

Members of the local YAB in Mozambique have been highly engaged through different events and initiatives. Two of the members, Jubia and Suzana, were willing to share some of their experiences. It goes to show how participation of youth in local advisory roles is meaningful, both for themselves and the organizations they work with.

What will follow is a reflection – written by Jubia and Suzana themselves – on the activities of the YAB and how they experienced them.

Jubia: Youth Advisory Board as Networking Accelerator

Jubia, member of the Youth Advisory Board in Mozambique
Jubia, member of the Youth Advisory Board in Mozambique.

At the networking event celebrating International Women's Day, hosted by the embassy, I realized that being the Youth Advisory Board of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Mozambique has been a true networking accelerator for me. 

During this event, I met incredible and exceptional women, some of whom I never thought I would meet so soon based on my current resume. One of the accelerated meeting was with Luísa Diogo, the former prime minister and the first female minister in Mozambique.

It was a tremendous privilege to meet and chat with her, an inspiring figure in Mozambique and one of the women I admire most. Holding her hand and exchanging ideas was surreal. I still need someone to pinch me! I also had enriching conversations with other women on entrepreneurship and issues related to civil society, which also added valuable knowledge which I can attribute to the YAB. 

Our networking event for International Women’s Day truly changed my network status and ability to network. Being part of the YAB opens doors and provides opportunities that I never imagined having access to at this stage of my career. Therefore, YAB has been my networking growth wheel and process broker. 

Suzana: Ambassador For a Day for Professional Development

Suzana and Vaina, members of the Youth Advisory Board in Mozambique
Suzana and Vaina, members of the Youth Advisory Board in Mozambique

As a member of the YAB of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I took part in the visit of the Ambassador to Cabo Delgado. During this ‘Ambassador For a Day’ initiative, I had the opportunity and pleasure of taking part in various events and activities. This year, the initiative supported a young woman from the province of Cabo Delgado; a human rights activist who is fighting to end early marriages in her community.

During the day in Cabo Delgado, several projects were visited, which resulted in ample interaction with the community. For example, we had a lot of learning and discussion with teenagers and young people from the Liga dos Direito Club on early marriages, sexual and reproductive health and the challenges facing young people in Cabo Delgado.

Challenges and solutions

Challenges and solutions

One moment of this visit that meant a lot to me as a young person and Youth Representative at the Embassy was the round table discussion with the Ambassador about the main challenges and solutions, as well as the needs of young people in the province.

Some of the challenges raised were:

  • High rate of prostitution driven by lack of opportunities and low level of education;
  • Lack of funding for youth projects;
  • Few schools, forcing students to travel kilometres to school (the case of the Maringanha neighbourhood, for example, which has no secondary school);
  • Difficult access to various basic public services (transport, health);
  • Initiation rites as a factor in the high rate of premature marriages in C.Delgado province.

Subsequently, some of the solutions raised were:

  • Literacy programmes for young people;
  • Schools close to the community (one school per neighbourhood, for example) and school feeding programmes to reduce access difficulties and drop-outs;
  • Access to basic, gender-sensitive public services; and
  • Elimination of the practice of initiation rites because it is considered harmful.

My day as an Ambassador made me understand the challenges facing youth in my country. Also, it gave me hope that the Embassy can contribute to reduce some of the challenges faced by young people in Cabo Delgado province.

What the YAB brings me

Being part of the YAB has been  a huge opportunity for me. First of all, I have space to share my point of views and suggest topics of focus that are relevant for the youth in my country – specifically in Cabo Delgado. Also, it allows me to be in touch with institutions that run interesting youth programmes or projects, as well as with people that have the power to support youth initiatives and their needs. All in all, it has been a journey of full learning opportunities.