First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has encouraged young people to be agents of positive change and progress by adding their voice to addressing problems facing the society.
The First Lady pointed out that the youth hold the key to the future and should pro actively contribute to the search for solutions to challenges such as maternal and child mortality, poverty alleviation, hunger, inadequate housing, environmental degradation as well as curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“These are critical issues of our time, and I firmly believe that as young women and men, you hold the keys to our future in your hands,” she said.
The First Lady was speaking today when she officially opened the 37th annual East African Model United Nations (EAMUN) Conference at the United Nations Complex at Gigiri in Nairobi.
The EAMUN, whose vision and mission is “Building leadership for tomorrow, is a conference that is designed for high school students aged 15 to 18 years where participants dialogue and interact to formulate solutions to real world problems.
This year’s conference, whose theme is “Tujenge Pamoja”, has drawn participants from 72 schools across nine countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Congo, Nigeria and Sweden.
The First Lady observed that the Model UN has become an increasingly effective and popular means of educating students about the important work of the United Nations, and the global issues it resolves as part of its institutional mandate.
“This conference has continued to attract thousands of young people from all over the world, eager to immerse themselves in debate, learn the intricacies of diplomacy, lobbying and negotiation,” the First Lady said.
She added that the conference also provides an opportunity for young people to cultivate responsible leadership and gain first-hand appreciation of the dynamics of individuals and cultures.
“You will become more confident, more empathetic. It will make you more aware and attuned to your obligations – to care about each other, to care about other less fortunate citizens,” she told the delegates.
The First Lady welcomed the theme of this year’s conference “Tujenge Pamoja”, saying it promotes collaboration and encourages the young people to overcome their differences, celebrate common opportunities and guard against shared threats.
“Some of you may wonder how this process will make a difference in the real world, or question the impact of all the work you will be doing here over the next few days. I assure you that this experience will not be in vain,” the First Lady advised.
She commended the EAMUN for developing a charity wing which has helped women in Langata Women’s prison, self-help groups in Laikipia as well as sponsoring two schools from Kibra in Nairobi to participate as delegates in the junior model UN programme.
“This reflects a true spirit of inclusivity that we want the model UN to embrace, where more children from less fortunate backgrounds can experience the exceptional opportunity provided by the Model UN,” she said.
Other speakers included Education Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed, EAMUN Secretary General Elizabeth Kuguru and the programme’s Coordinator Erick Huma.