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Ellen: First day of my first World Urban Forum

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 - 09:29

This week I'll be posting views young participants at the World Urban Forum 7. The event convened by the UN-Habitat and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Colombia and the Municipality of Medellin held this year is a memorable and insightful gathering. Todays post is written by Ellen Ziah from Liberia; She’s a 27year-old activist to end the issue sexual harassment and violence against women and girls in the universities and public spaces.

This is her experience:

The first day and the opening of the World Urban Forum 7 and exhibition was beyond words.

I arrived at the opening session earlier to ensuring I was prompt in order to capture all the exciting events. Registration took about an hour and we proceeded to the first session. My first session was at the Youth Assembly were youth gathered in their  number and we had great speakers from Rwanda, India and the Major of Medellin was also a speaker at that session. It was amazing how they deliver their presentation well organized and develop out of the Conference theme: Urban Equity in Development. This session imparted me greatly.

The first speaker Mr. Solomon, emphasized that youth are about 75% of the world's population and about 44% of the youth are unemployed. He also stressed the issue of increasing urban youth population as a major factor in the development of our world today. He admonished that youth should have a greater sense of appreciation for their significance as human beings.

The third speaker also captured the need for youth to participate fully in the development and planning agenda of our cities. The youth as agent of change. She happened to be the city Major of Medellin city and her presentation was so fascinating, though in Spanish but I think the translator did well by conveying the message she wanted to get across. She also raised questions about how we can make ideas travel faster than institutions and how we can bring the high level of discourse to a level where young people can participate. The session was youth dominated and we had fun moments too.

A slogan was introduced by the host of the session, Miss. Stella from Kenya and her male cohost from Colombia.

Youth: "Nothing For Us Without Us".

My most touching experience was at the second session when a female secondary student from Uganda gave her experience about her city. Uganda situation is similar to that of Liberia. Limited transport systems, poor lighting conditions violence in  city spaces and marginalized slum dwellers trying to make ends meet. Yesterday I met lots of young people from Uganda, Kenya and Colombia.

File 23092My favorite part of the exhibition was seeing the afro band performed. I am told they are the best in Colombia.

Most interestingly I met my friend and sister from Colombia through facebook, who managed to come see me at the conference. She took me to lunch and the rest of the day was fun and laughter. Erika is an amazing young woman and so hospitable. She tried showing me around this magnificent city called Medellin. I was so exhausted from my flight and begged her to go sleep at about 9pm.  

One notable thing at the opening ceremony was the exhibition. Unfortunately for me I looked out for Liberia at the exhibition and only to find out we were absent. But it was fantastic to see people from around the world were showcasing talents and creativity through arts and designs.