The empowerment of young people in government decision-making in the Gulf and South America took center stage when Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of Youth, participated in a virtual meeting with H.E Marta Lucía Ramírez de Rincón, Vice President of the Republic of Colombia.

During the discussion, which was also attended by H.E. María Juliana Ruiz, First Lady of the Republic of Colombia, H.E. Jaime Amin, Republic of Colombia Ambassador to the UAE, and H.E. Salem Rashid Alowais, United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the Republic of Colombia, H.E. Mazrui delivered a presentation about the UAE’s model for youth empowerment and its efforts to harness their capabilities to benefit the nation.

H.E. Al Mazrui started the session by praising Colombia’s commitment to young people and congratulated H.E. María Juliana Ruiz for her country’s recent appointment of a dedicated young person’s advocate as an advisor for policy-making – a role that reflects her own mandate in the UAE.

“I want to first congratulate you on the appointment of a counsellor specifically for young people. That in and of itself offers special and tremendous value and sends a message about young people. I think your esteemed counsellor is in a special place because he is in a decision-making role, but is also a young person. He's the product that the government wants to serve, i.e. youth, but he's also serving as a decision-maker. I think this is something we share because our Federal Youth Authority is filled with [a team of] young people,” said H.E. Al Mazrui.

H.E. Al Mazrui cited Colombia as a pioneer due to the country’s commitment to promoting integral development for young people from early childhood to early adulthood. She then spoke of how countries that prioritize empowering young people will become global leaders, with youth representing an increasing percentage of the world’s population.

“We truly believe that the future belongs to those who prepare for it. And the best futures belong to the nations that harness their youth potential. The math is very clear, not just in Colombia, but also around the world: the majority of populations are youth. The big questions are: Where will they work? How will they be educated? What kind of citizens will they be? How will they serve their nations? Who will they be? Of course, these are questions of tomorrow, but every nation must answer them today,” said H.E. Al Mazrui.

Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez de Rincón, in conjunction with First Lady H.E. María Juliana Ruiz, then outlined Colombia’s promotion of the youth sector and how they had initially created a strong focus on younger children aged up to six years old, but that their current strategy is to empower youth across all ages.

She also underlined the importance of having common goals related to the development of youth in both countries, highlighting the extensive opportunities to empower and equip youth with tools for the future and the changing economy post COVID-19.

 First Lady praised H.E. Al Mazrui’s presentation and the UAE’s strategy, mentioning that the Republic of Colombia also sees youth at the center – the main actors in human, social and economic transformation. She also expressed that the biggest challenge for youth is to preserve their idiosyncrasies, culture, and identity, while progressing towards a future through innovation and technology. She added,“It’s about preserving your roots but also reaching high into the future.”

The First Lady stated that there were considerable opportunities for the UAE and Colombia to work together on projects that would have tangible results and generate mutual benefits for both countries.  

“I'm pretty sure you will find a lot of connections and a lot of common ground that would allow us to make this bigger, to increase our already very good relationship.”

The meeting included a romantic gesture when the President of Colombia, H.E. Iván Duque Márquez, surprised the First Lady with a large bouquet of flowers; ‘a beautiful gesture of love,’ said H.E Al Mazrui.

Source: Asda'a BCW