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Eswatini’s Focus on Youth: Key to Economic Prosperity

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At the 57th Session of the Commission for Population and Development in New York, Eswatini’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Dr. Thambo Gina, emphasized the strategic importance of youth investment for national growth. The session reviewed the implementation of the Programme of Action from the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) alongside its role in the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Dr. Gina highlighted the transformative progress made since the adoption of the ICPD framework over three decades ago, particularly in improving the quality of life in Eswatini. “We’ve observed significant enhancements in our standard of living, with notable advancements in health outcomes and rights, particularly regarding women’s reproductive health,” Dr. Gina stated.

According to Dr. Gina, under-5 mortality in Eswatini has dramatically decreased, with rates dropping from 167 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to just 41 in the 2021-22 period. Additionally, life expectancy has rebounded from the impacts of HIV and AIDS, showing a remarkable increase from an average of 42.5 years in 2007 to over 61.5 years by 2017, signifying the nation’s effective response to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The demographic shifts observed through census data also paint a promising picture for Eswatini. The proportion of the population below the age of 15 has decreased from 51% in 1976 to 36% in 2017, while the working-age population has risen from 46% to 59% over the same period. “This shift opens a window of opportunity for spectacular economic prosperity,” remarked Dr. Gina.

Underpinning these observations is the government’s commitment to harnessing the demographic dividend offered by its predominantly young population, with a median age of just 21 years. Dr. Gina underscored the implementation of macro-economic policies aimed at empowering young people to be productive members of society. “Investing in our youth is not just a policy choice—it is an imperative for our national development,” concluded Dr. Gina.

The ongoing discussions at the Commission for Population and Development underscore a global recognition of the interconnectedness between population dynamics and sustainable development, with Eswatini positioning itself as a proactive participant in this global dialogue.

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