The Turks and Caicos Islands has a new and improved youth policy, which its proponents have described as a concrete and transparent strategy to support youth empowerment.
The 2020-2025 Youth Policy was launched at the Palms Resort on Providenciales on Tuesday, January 25, and attracted high-level government officials such as His Excellency Governor Nigel Dakin, Deputy Governor Hon. E. Jay Saunders, Education Minister Hon. Rachel Taylor, Tourism Minister Hon. Josephine Connolly and Member of Parliament for Wheeland Hon. Kyle Knowles.
The document is said to be grounded in a positive youth development paradigm and adopts a rights-based approach, explaining also that it embodies the fundamental principles of gender equality and equity, social inclusion, inclusive and active youth participation.
According to the government, the overarching goal of the policy is Youth Empowerment, embodied in Seven strategic objectives:
To Facilitate youth economic participation and empowerment;
Develop socially conscious, intellectually accomplished, resilient young people;
Support inclusive and active youth participation;
Create safe spaces, peaceful communities and environments;
Promote healthy lifestyles and youth wellbeing;
Facilitate youth contribution to environmental sustainability, disaster mitigation and food security; and
To create a supportive environment for positive youth development.
The policy is underpinned by seven integrated youth development pillars to support empowerment, facilitate active citizenship, enhance the youth policy environment, and promote what has been described as ‘youth mainstreaming’.
The pillars are:
Enhancing Youth Economic participation and Economic Empowerment;
Building resilience and harnessing youth social & intellectual capital as development assets;
Facilitating Inclusive and active youth participation in Turks and Caicos Island democratic and community life;
Positively impacting youth health and wellbeing;
Supporting youth in action on climate change, environmental sustainability, disaster mitigation and food security;
Creating safe spaces, nurturing environments and peaceful communities for young people; and
Enhancing policy environments and institutional frameworks for positive youth development in Turks and Caicos Islands.
Lauding the development of the policy, Minister Taylor stated that the new National Youth Policy was a timely and forward-looking instrument for positive youth development.
“It offers an insight into the unique world of our youth, who will inevitably be the future leaders of this country. It allows the youth to participate actively in the shaping and moulding of their country and it reflects the vision that the youth has for these islands,” Taylor said.
She added that the policy goals, objectives, core values and strategic interventions would provide a guiding framework for the formulation of youth responsive legislation, regulations and programmes, which she said would be carried out by the Department of Youth Affairs.
“It articulates strategies intended to accentuate the important role of young people in the development of the Turks and Caicos Islands, even while alleviating existing and potential areas of concern to the youth. We believe that economic justice and social equity are essential for macroeconomic stability,” she said.
For her part, Jasmine Thomas, Director for the Department of Youth Affairs, stated that the policy, overtime would be modified and reinvented to suit the changing dynamics of the rapidly growing country.
“The Youth Policy is an important initiative within the Government’s mission to implement an essential framework that is modernized and focus on rights-based, sustainable development goals, and mainstreaming youth into national development which enables youth to secure a bright future,” she said.
She said the youth policy will not only develop global-minded youth but will lead to the creation of a wealthy reservoir of talented, disciplined, responsible, and dynamic people who will contribute positively to the future development of the economy and country.
Vershina Forbes, Youth Council Member, in also highlighting the importance of the document, pointed out that it seeks to establish a secure connection and building good relationships …promoting bonding, cultivate resilience, harnessing the ability to think logically, creatively and critically, noting also that it was designed to manage emotions, thus stimulating positive and emotional competence.
“As a first step, this policy will foster youth inclusion, participation, and representation, supported by the seven pillars of the policy,” she assured, noting that when dissected, the document will expose diversity with each of the pillars, while fostering human rights standards.
The document was also lauded by Deputy Premier Saunders; Arean Luis, Youth Parliamentarian; and Roshard Talbot, President of the National Youth Council.
Dr. Henry Charles, who led the development of the policy, made a PowerPoint Presentation of the document, and further explained its dynamics.