Commonwealth Heads Declare 2023 The Year of the Youth

Leaders of the 56 Commonwealth countries have demonstrated their commitment to tackling the endemic challenges facing children and young people.

Their landmark declaration at the end of the 2-day Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) comes on the heels of the devastating global pandemic that released a tsunami of health, education, economic, employment, and safe-guarding challenges, and aims to get youth development on track for global-agreed development goals deadlines.

Their 22-page communique, issued after their historic meeting, which was twice delayed by Covid-19, includes commitments that will specifically benefit young people such as the landmark Kigali Declaration on Child Care and Protection Reform. Among ten key commitments in the bold, standalone declaration, Heads pledge to:

make health systems strong enough to withstand the shocks of future pandemics – particularly with a specific focus on protecting children; boost child protection and safeguarding resources and tackle the root issues that lead to children needing to be put into care and protection; collaborate with development agencies to boost aid and development assistance for children and young people; and support data collection so that interventions are targeted, and evidence-based.

Other key commitments at the end of their meeting include:

*To implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and tailoring support to those with disabilities to address the unique challenges of Covid-19.

*To prioritise the education reforms agreed at the 21st Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, which focussed on resilience and sustainability; learning technologies; leadership in education; transitions within and outside the education system; addressing disparities; and financing of education. Critically, they are committed to offering 12 years of quality and inclusive education and ensuring children can catch up on the learning they lost during the pandemic.

*To act on the mandates of the Youth Statement on Climate Change, including its call for adequate financing on climate action and specific support to the most vulnerable;

*To accelerate cervical cancer prevention and elimination efforts, with a particular focus on screening and vaccination against human papillomavirus infection by age 13 in accordance with country contexts, following a commitment from spouses and partners of Heads on the issue;

*To increase access to quality eye care, including screenings and affordable vision treatment for children, as well as strategies to eliminate trachoma and glaucoma;

*To act on the findings of the Commonwealth’s Global Youth Development Index (YDI) and the recommendations of youth leaders in their 12th Commonwealth Youth Forum Declaration, made at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. During the Forum, the young people launched The Commonwealth Youth for Sustainable Urbanisation network, as well as a new youth initiative on cervical cancer called the A4HPV and a Digital Trade Hackathon. They were also given the opportunity to share their vision for youth-led sustainable development with Heads at a historic Intergenerational Dialogue.

At the end of these activities, Heads made key commitments to youth employment, quality youth leadership, education reforms, and post-covid recovery. They also addressed concerns about road traffic injuries, which is the leading cause of death of children and young people worldwide. In their statement, Heads “supported action in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution 74/299 on improving global road safety and committed to attaining the SDG target 3.6 to reduce road traffic deaths by at least 50 percent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels.”     

Heads then sealed their commitment to ensuring the Commonwealth’s attention is firmly fixed on the empowerment of young people, who represent more than 60 percent of the Commonwealth’s 2.6 billion population, with a declaration that 2023 will be the ‘Year of the Youth’.

The outcomes follow a robust, youth-led movement to find solutions to the Commonwealth’s development hurdles, which culminated in their declaration and action plan at the Commonwealth Youth Forum. Young people were also given the opportunity to meet face-to-face with heads to share their vision.    

“This Communique is indeed a victory for children and young people,” said Layne Robinson, head of social policy at the Commonwealth. “The youth spoke, and they were heard. The next step is action and implementation and we already have a head start on this with the formation of our Commonwealth Alliance for Quality Youth Leadership, which will help us bring increased skills to more than 250 million young people.”

He added: “Next year is not just the ‘Year of the Youth’, it is also the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, and I know we can achieve what is set out in this communique –  particularly when I look back at what we have achieved since we started our youth program: the many youth-led projects we have supported through the Youth Awards; the development of the YDI to enable governments and organisations to create smart, evidence-based policies and interventions for youth; our leadership on youth work education and training; our support to youth ministers on policy development and implementation;  and the networks we have built, which have helped to advance causes such as climate action – just to name a few of many initiatives.”

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Nicoleta Acatrinei 2

Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei

Head, Diaspora (Europe)

Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei, is the head of our Research and Development, Swiss Impact Investment Association (SIIA). She is a distinguished economist whose journey began in the world of banking but soon transcended traditional boundaries. Her expertise ranges from public policies, sustainable finance, and development to anthropology, moral decision-making, work psychology, theology, and digital transformation. She has authored books, book chapters and journal articles, including Saint John Chrysostom and Homo Oeconomicus (2008); Let’s talk about money, let’s talk about human nature (2007); The determinants of work motivation in the delivery of public services: the case of the Swiss education sector (2015); and Perspectives of Saint John Chrysostom for the VUCA world. An integrative mindfulness program to cope with managerial challenges in a VUCA world , and most recently “The Human Nature of Homo Oeconomicus: An Anthropological Investigation in the Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew by Saint John Chrysostom, in Studia Patristica ( 2021), vol. 25, pp. 255-268.

In 2014, Dr. Acatrinei earned her Ph.D. from the prestigious Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP), Switzerland.

She spearheads initiatives that define the future of work at the crossroads of faith, well-being, and digital transformation, while also guiding the formulation of public policies that drive sustainable development, SDGs, and social impact economic activities. Her impact reverberates globally, as evidenced by her esteemed Doctorate Honoris Causa bestowed by RAI University in New Delhi for her outstanding work on economics and sustainable development in December 2022.

Rita Namakikia

Rita Namakiika Nangono

Legal Advisor

Rita Namakiika Nangono is a Founding Partner of N&N Advocates, Fully fledged commercial Law firm and has a career spanning over 15 years and she is a seasoned law practitioner with extensive experience in Insurance law, Corporate & Commercial law (including proficiency in joint ventures and other forms of domestic and foreign investments, Immigration and Employment Law, Corporate Governance).

Rita is a specially trained trial advocacy lawyer with a certificate in Trial Advocacy by Justice Advocacy Africa in conjunction with Uganda Law Society. She can competently handle all civil and criminal litigation in all courts in Uganda.

Other Board Positions include Chairperson – INSURANCE APPEALS TRIBUNAL, Board member and Chairperson HR Committee – PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND DISPOSAL OF ASSETS AUTHORITY (PPDA), Member Education and Training Committee – INSTITUTE OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, Board Chairperson – MINERVA REINSURANCE BROKERS LIMITED and Immediate Past Hon. Secretary (2020-2022) – UGANDA LAW SOCIETY

Rita holds a Bachelor of Laws from, Makerere University, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre, Kampala. She is a member of the Uganda Law Society, East Africa Law Society and Commonwealth Lawyers Association.

In 2016, Rita was recognized among the top 40 women under 40 in Uganda for excellence and influence in her field.

Dr Anire Okogun-2

Dr Anire Okogun

Legal Advisor

Dr Anire Okogun, is a lawyer, and Managing partner of Chanelle Solicitors, she was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1991, and holds a Doctorate Degree, from Colorado Technical University in Denver Colorado. She is a serial Entrepreneur With Over 33 years post graduate Experience. Her passion for women and youth Advocacy led her to the Board of PIND foundation, a foundation established by Chevron Nigeria to Develop women and youth for self-sustainability in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria

She is the founder and pioneer Managing Director of Chanelle Microfinance Bank , in Nigeria. Under her watch over 30,000 women and youth were empowered for self-sustainability and financial Independence from 2008 to 2020 ,through Micro, Small and Medium Loans schemes

Dr Anire Okogun established Chanelle Foundation in 2009, to help woman and youth build skills as a tool for Empowerment. Since establishment, over 2000 women and youth have benefitted from their various projects. She sits on the Board of several companies and a member of the International Federation of women lawyers (FIDA) a professional advocacy group protecting the rights and dignity of women and youth

Dr Okogun has attended both local and international courses which includes the Harvard Business school. Dr Okogun is passionate about women and youth Empowerment and has taken her advocacy to several countries championing the rights of women and the girl child.

Pauline Warui

Pauline Warui

Head of Trade

Pauline Warui is the founder of East Africa Customer Care Centre Ltd a company she founded in January 2016 to improve the training and execution of customer experience in businesses.

She has been instrumental in shaping commercial and customer experience teams in Kenyan Companies through leadership, training and consultancy. She is a renowned business leader with over 20 years’ experience, in the leading Telecommunications organizations; the Oil and Insurance sector. She has worked with Capital Pagers, Kencell Telecommunications and Chevron Global at Senior and Executive levels. She also worked at Safaricom as Director, Customer Care where she played a critical role in setting-up Safaricom’s contact centre; the biggest of its kind in East and Central Africa.

She is also Country Head of Commonwealth Business Women in Kenya having served as Vice Chair previously.. She is also a director at Kline Insurance Agency where she is in charge of the commercial portfolio and board member of Muruguru Girls Secondary School, a school in the rural county of Nyeri in Kenya.

Meklit Abdella - Head Advocacy

Mrs. Meklit Abdella

Head of Advocacy

Mrs. Meklit Abdella is a women entrepreneur and Data Scientist with nearly 15 years of international experience. She has worked with global organizations such as the United Nations and global brands, gaining valuable expertise in various fields. As the Co-founder and Managing Director of Queen Nyabinghi LTD in Rwanda and Meklit Technologies in Ethiopia, Meklit has been instrumental in numerous investment and business projects across Africa, including Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

At Queen Nyabinghi LTD Rwanda, Meklit’s company focuses on exporting and adding value to agricultural and mineral products. Additionally, the firm serves as an investment consulting agency, offering comprehensive pre-investment and after-care services to individual investors, trusts, and international financial service providers.

Meklit is driven by her passion for creating positive change in people’s lives through education and human-centric solutions. She envisions making significant contributions to the ongoing development of the African continent. Empowering women and girls across Africa is a cause particularly close to her heart. Meklit’s deep-rooted commitment to Pan-Africanism is evident in her efforts to celebrate the continent’s rich heritage and promote its progress.


Aisha Ibrahim Qumrudin

Head of Projects

Aisha is an Economist by Education. She is a mother of two brilliant daughters. She is a seasoned Human Resource Professional. She is a serial Entrepreneur with a fully E-Commerce Direct Selling Company that has a market reach of over 120 countries and a diverse range of over 300 products. She is a dedicated advocate for global success. Aisha firmly believes in the transformative power of education and mentorship. As an entrepreneur, she is constantly seeking innovative ways to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape. Aisha is passionate about creating a positive impact and is committed to leading by example in both her professional and personal endeavors.

Through her work, Aisha is committed to breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for individuals to thrive in the global marketplace. She is a strong proponent of creating a more inclusive and diverse business environment, where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Aisha is driven by a deep sense of purpose and is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of others.

At the core of Aisha’s mission is the empowerment of individuals to embrace their potential and achieve their dreams. She firmly believes in the power of collaboration and is dedicated to creating a brighter future for all. With her relentless drive and passion for empowering others, Aisha is unwavering in her commitment to making a lasting impact on the world.

Dorothy Liech

Dorothy “Dottie” Liech

Head of Fundraising & Partnerships

Dottie is a highly accomplished professional with a diverse range of  experience and expertise. As the Africa Regional Director and Head of Communication at the Nordic Global Investment Foundation, she is crucial in promoting the African development agenda. Dorothy’s extensive career spans over a decade, during which she has  gained a deep understanding of political economics and entrepreneurship.  She has been instrumental in the successful transition of Kenya’s  Devolution system of county governments and has developed a wealth of  global engagements. With her expertise in trade-related issues, she is a  force to be reckoned with in the international business


In addition to her professional pursuits, Dorothy is a visionary entrepreneur  passionate about empowering women and youth. She is the founder of  Dowan International Foundation, which focuses on women and youth  entrepreneurial education in Africa. She also runs Premier Plan Agency, an  award-winning consultancy specializing in travel logistics, resource  mobilization, and PR. Furthermore, she leads Fashion with a Purpose, a CSR arm that fundraises for education, medical camps, and other charitable  causes through fashion events. Dorothy’s dedication and drive have earned her numerous accolades and  recognition. She is a recipient of the prestigious Presidential or Duke of  Edinburgh’s International Award in Kenya and has been awarded the Most Impactful Female Entrepreneur Award by Women in Business Kenya. She  is also a current nominee for the African Humanitarian Ambassador of the  Year Award.

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike

Head of Finance

Enyidiya Uwa Ojike is the Co-founder and CEO of OVAC Group, an international consultancy based in the United Kingdom and Nigeria that offers pragmatic financial advisory and project management solutions, a Certified Consultant in Banking, Finance and Allied Matters (CIBN), a Certified Wealth Management and Financial Planner (CFI), the MD/CEO of EFB Industries Limited (a wholly owned palm oil processing company located in Abia State).

She has over 20 years’ experience in the Financial Services Industry which includes Retail, Branch, Corporate, Institutional and Microfinance Banking. She is skilled in Business Planning, Financial Planning, Financial Analysis, Banking, Accounting, Credit Risk, and Portfolio Management.

She holds a B.Sc. Degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and an MBA from Lagos Business School (LBS). She is an Associate of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) and Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN), a member of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN), the Financial Secretary of CBW-Africa Nigeria Chapter, the Head of Finance of Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa) and a Director of Ohafia Microfinance Bank Plc.


Nana Wanjau

Vice President

Nana Wanjau, is the 2022 Woman With a Mission Recognition and Achievement Award winner. She is the Global Women in Leadership Awards 2022 winner, She is East Africa
Woman Leadership Award 2019 winner. She is the 8th of All African Business Leaders Award
(AABLA) winner, she is the Philanthropist of the year EA Award winner and she is the
Harmony Institute Philanthropy Award winner.
Nana is an impact Pan African Leader.
Nana is the Administrative Director for Eastern, Central & Southern African Regions for Commonwealth Women Network (CWN); a Commonwealth Accredited Organisation. She is the Vice President of Commonwealth Business Women – Africa, an affiliate of CWN.
The Pan African Chamber of Commerce recently appointed Nana Wanjau to head the Chief Gender Office for Africa.

Her role will involve mainstreaming gender in the Pan African Chamber of Commerce programs and operations. She is instrumental in the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurship Centres across Africa.
Nana is passionate about women empowerment through social and economic
advancement; She is the Founder of PowerWoman International; they build homes for Ostracized Widows: No woman should lose her dignity nor rights because she lost her husband. Widows are
supported through four pillars; Shelter, Counselling, Economic Empowerment and
Education for children.
Nana sits on numerous board, including the Advisory Board of the Centre for Research on African Digital Policies and Innovations (CRADPI); headquarters in Pretoria, South Africa.
Nana is a long term mentor in the Global Give Back Circle mentoring the next leaders from the Mastercard Foundation Programs.
Nana Wanjau is the Past President of the Rotary Club of Nairobi East.
@ She is an Alumni of the Strathmore Business School and Lagos Business School.
@ She is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Executive Education Program: Harvard Leadership Principles/Strategy Execution and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies with a focus on Africa.

Mrs Ngozi Oyewole.

Ngozi Oyewole M.CIoD FITD


Mrs. Ngozi Oyewole is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and leader with over 20 years of experience in business management and strategic planning. She is the founder of Noxie Limited, specializing in furniture production and personal protective equipment, she has a background in Business Administration and is a certified Interior Designer. An alumna of SAID Business School and University of Oxford, UK. She is a passionate advocate for women’s inclusion in business and holds the position of President at Commonwealth Business Women Africa (CBW-Africa). Her global recognitions stem from her work in women’s leadership, business sustainability, and energy transition.

Her achievements encapsulates various strata of human endeavour and notable mention will be made of a few of them

1) The Board Chair/President and Founder of Strategic Women and Youth Institute (SWYI)
2) Council Member of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
3) Current Chairperson of the Wood & Wood Products/Furniture Sectoral Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN)
4) The former Vice Chairperson of Commonwealth Business Women Network (CBWN), Nigeria
5) A 2019 award recipient of an Exceptional Leader of Excellence from the Women Economic Forum (WEF) and All Ladies League.
6) One of the 32 Women Amplifying the Voices of African Leadership -2022
7) Nominated in 2015 by Forbes Magazine as one of the leading entrepreneurs in Africa Championing Business Sustainability and Women Inclusion
8) Business Woman of the year Nigeria from Women in Management, Top 50 Global Awards, Sri Lanka – 2022
9) A Vital Voices Fellow

Beyond her professional pursuits, she is dedicated to philanthropy, supports widows, empowers young women, and is involved in initiatives for the less privileged.

Remmie Male

Remmie Male

Continental Executive Secretary

Remmie Male is the Continatal Secretary Commonwealth Business Women Africa, Founder/Executive Director CBW-Africa Uganda Chapter. Remmie Male is an author of Gangos, a multi-talented serial entrepreneur in the fields of writing, business incubation, mentorship training, motivational speaking, and executive coaching. She is the founder and executive director of Women of Valor Foundation plus Jamboree et Rendezvous, as well as the Vision Bearer of Beauty For Ashes and Tender Warriors Ministries.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Makerere University, Remmie has utilized her expertise as the founder of Jamboree et Rendezvous, an events management and PR firm. Through this venture, she has been involved in projects involving fundraising, profile raising, and community empowerment of her client’s companies, with a focus on economic empowerment, harmony, prosperity, and general well-being of the people in her community. She is the country Director Pivoting in heels an African platform that profiles leading women in Africa and compiles them in a coffee table book per country with the Lady running state house writing the forward.

As the proprietor of Women of Valor Foundation, Remmie is dedicated to economically empowering women and youth through mentorship, executive coaching, business training, and entrepreneurship trainings. Her foundation has made significant impacts on individuals and communities, providing the necessary tools and guidance for them to thrive. 

In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Remmie is also an author.

Her book, Gango, delves into the power of networks and how they impact our net worth. It also provides valuable advice and inspiration from powerful women worldwide, sharing their tips and philosophies on succeeding in business. Remmie’s contributions have been recognized internationally. She was honored as one of the 60 global community leaders for 2011 by the State